Students: Christmas revision tips
Students: Christmas revision tips
Eating mince pies and hanging out with your family might sound more fun than revision, but you can fit in both if you plan your time well
Studying for January exams doesn’t have to ruin your Christmas if you’re organised.
The Christmas holidays are upon us; a time for socialising, partying and… revising. Unfortunately. But your festive break need not be a whirlwind of stress, essays and panicking – there’s still time for plenty of merriment along with the stacks of revision. If you’re organised you can still do well in your January exams and have a good Christmas too. Here are some tips to make your life easier this holiday season (warning: will include Christmas puns).
1. Work little and often
One option to tackle the mountain of revision is to set aside a few hours a day, every day. If you’re an early bird then get up in the mornings before the rest of your family are awake and there is still “peace on Earth”. If you work better in the evenings then wait until “not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse” before you hit the books. Getting a little bit done each day means that you’ll still have time to see friends and family throughout the holidays while not overloading yourself with work.
2. Do a marathon revision session
At the other extreme to “little and often” is the “just-sit-down-and-do-it-all-in-one-go” approach. Only the mentally and physically tough can endure this hardcode work-method. Be antisocial and shut yourself away from your family then emerge after three days ready to step into Christmas having done all your work. On the plus side it means that you get all the work out of the way and can enjoy the rest of the break knowing you have nothing hanging over your head.
This could work for essays or coursework, but with revision you’ll need to refresh your memory nearer the exam, so bear this in mind before you get too carried away with the mulled wine.
3. Stay longer at university
If the idea of getting it all done in one go appeals to you then you might have decided to stay behind at uni to work for a few extra days. If it’s too late now, perhaps it’s one to think of for next year: your house will be quiet if all your flatmates have gone home meaning you can really focus with no distractions. It also means you don’t have to lug all your books back with you and you can then head home knowing you’ve got it all done.
4. Prioritise and plan
Find out what events are coming up that you simply must attend; plans your mum has made on your behalf, meet-ups with friends, family dinners and so on. Fill in your diary for the whole holiday so you can see when you realistically have spare time and fit in your work days with your social days to maintain a good work-life balance.
Christmas is a family time so it’s important to prioritise this as well as your work. By mapping out your activities you can see what’s coming up and when you’ll need to have work done by so you can enjoy leisure time with a free conscience. All work and no play is not good, so make sure you do plan some time to “rock around the Christmas tree”.
5. Be organised
You’ll save yourself so much time when it comes to revision if your notes from the term are all filed neatly. You’ll find important information will be more accessible and your references will be at your fingertips. If it takes you two days to scramble your notes into some form of order then that’s two days out of your holiday wasted. If you’re super keen you could make a revision timetable.
6. Waste not, want not
There’s nothing worse than lying around doing nothing, then the next day realising you have two days’ work to do in one day. Your time needs to be managed effectively to make sure none of it goes to waste. This doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7 but perhaps lying in your pyjamas eating a whole tin of Quality Street isn’t the best way to spend every day of your holiday.
7. Keep your brain active
There’s no point spending hours staring at textbooks, a computer screen or lecture notes if it’s just not going in. Your brain can only focus on one thing for about an hour at a time, so half a day on one activity will not be the most effective method to revise. You’ll get much more out of your work session if you swap tasks. If you are revising one topic try doing different activities on it so your brain doesn’t get bored and start to wander off. To help increase concentration span there are some great brain training games and websites. They’re fun but count as work too.
8. Have breaks
Take regular breaks throughout the day to boost your brain power and energy levels. A change of scenery and movement will do you good – even if it’s a five minute chat to your mum in the kitchen or a cuddle with the cat. Allow yourself longer breaks too; take the dog for a walk or indulge in a nice lunch where thinking about work is banned.
Return to the books after half an hour refreshed and ready to go again. You can get a serious case of cabin fever if you don’t take breaks. Stay positive and think about all the things you have to look forward to – it’s the most wonderful time of the year after all.
9. Implement a sophisticated reward system
If you have to revise, make sure to give yourself rewards. Photograph: Alamy
Have a checklist of things you want to complete by the end of each revision session, and each time you tick one off reward yourself. Whether it’s with a five minute break, a cup of tea or a mince pie or three, having an incentive to finish will keep you going. A word of warning – consistent rewards with baked goods will lead to weight gain – maybe limit yourself to five boxes of mince pies, four yule logs and just the one Christmas pudding?
10. Make it a family affair
There’s no rule that says revision and work need to be solo activities. Fair enough if you work better alone, but sometimes it’s helpful to ask for others’ help. They could test you with note cards, proofread or just provide constant cups of tea. If this doesn’t sound ideal but you can work with noise then take your laptop into where they are to have some company. There’s no need to be “lonely this Christmas”.
So, you can spend time with family, friends and your textbooks this Christmas. That’s that sorted, now back to the last minute Christmas shopping.