• Ian Gibbs

Exam Tip #16: Last Minute Revision


It’s the big day, the day of your exam(s).


Some of the things you need to do are obvious: make sure you have something to eat, arrive with plenty of time, stay calm, go to the loo, etc.


But there is one thing that might not be quite so obvious: last-minute revision.


You’ll probably be tempted to do some last-minute revision.


You might be doing it while you have breakfast.


You might even be doing it the last few minutes before you go into your exam.


But it’s important to realise the right and wrong reasons for last-minute revision.


One wrong reason is if you want to learn something new.


That wouldn’t be last-minute revision, it would be last-minute panicking.


If you haven’t learnt it after all the coursework and revision you’ve done, you’re definitely not going to learn it now.

Trying something new is only going to make you more stressed and anxious when you realise it’s too much, too late.


Not good.


Another wrong reason for last-minute revision is if you want to remember stuff better.


Unless you’ve suddenly developed some sort of mastermind memory, your normal short-term memory can only retain about seven items. And once you’ve entered the exam, sat down, got out your collection of pens, eyed up your surroundings and listened to the invigilator explain things, those seven items will have disappeared.


This would make you anxious, too.


From the learning point of view, last-minute revision is useless.


In fact, it could be worse than useless.


Last-minute revision of stuff you haven’t learnt or don’t understand is simply rubbing your own nose in it.


It’s drawing attention to the things you can’t do.


All it’s doing is using up your valuable mental energy before your exam starts.


So what is last-minute revision for?


Believe it or not, last- minute revision is for calming yourself down.


If you were to go on a long journey, you’d prepare a list of all the belongings you need to take: passport, tickets, money, undies, phone, charging cable, etc.


Once you’ve packed, you go over the list again to check and reassure yourself you’ve got everything.


Last-minute revision is for this purpose: to check and reassure yourself you’ve got everything (Which you will have, given that you started well in advance, prepared a revision timetable and followed the advice in these blogs).


Last-minute revision is for calming you down, for letting you focus on the positive, for going through the pages and saying, ‘Yes, I know that... and that... and that.’


It should be similar to meditation: you are calm and in control.


You are able to focus on the subject at hand without being distracted and you’re able to do so without getting your knickers in a twist.


If last-minute revision is making you nervous, stop doing it. It’s not helping.


Focus on what you know, not on the stuff you don’t.


Last-minute revision is for reassuring yourself that you’ve prepared well, covered everything and that you’re about to sit your exam and get the best grade possible.


Tip 16: Remember, on the big day, last-minute revision is for reassurance, not for trying to learn anything new.


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