So you've got a few months left for your exams, or perhaps only a few weeks. This article aims to talk about how you can go about planning your revision and exam preparation. You may or may not agree with all, or some, of the things I say, this is ok, as you should use the method you feel comfortable with. If something different has worked for you then stick to that, and let me also know about it.
First off, check you have all the required notes to revise from. If not, start making them ASAP or get copies from friends on your course/ in your class.
If you have sheets and sheets of notes on a subject then you may want to consider trying Mind maps. (mind-map.com). Tony Buzans 'Use Your Head' is also a good book on the same subject.
Next you should draw up a calendar/ revision planner showing each day up from now until your exam/ exam week. Each day mark down what subject you have studied &/ or how many hours. This way when you have a lazy day you should be able to see it on paper and feel guilty for doing so.
If you start planning early enough, then those who tend to panic will have time to panic, calm down and then approach the task of revision in a logical and cohesive manner.
A great way to revise is by practising real past exam questions. The beauty of doing this is that you can:
1. Learn what you need to know for a particular subject/ module and do away with some of the information you don't need to know.
2. Teachers will normally be willing to take a look at any essays/ questions you have done and give you feedback on it, so use them. This way you can identify your weaknesses and the areas where your knowledge lacks.
3. Develop the unique skills needed for exam style questions. Learning a subject inside out does not mean you will breeze the exam, exam technique is too very important.
4. Get used to the time pressure you will be under in a real exam. A common complaint for exam students is running out of time. The truth is you will never have enough time for the exam, you just need to manage it better to make the most of it!
5. Realise that the amount of time spent on an exam needs to be in proportion to the marks it is worth.
E.g. In a 3 hour exam Question A is worth 50 marks, B 25 marks and C 25 marks. Spend:
A 50% x 180 mins = 90 mins
B 25% x 180 mins = 45 mins
C 25% x 180 mins = 45 mins
6. Be more time efficient as you become more familiar with the subject you are learning, especially if you are redoing the questions a 2nd time after doing them all.
Unless you are doing exam questions or mock exams don't study for more than 50-60 minutes at a time. This is because concentration lapses and the minds retention rate decreases significantly after 50/ 60 minutes. Keep taking these breaks at regular intervals, even if you don't get up from your desk. You can pray tasbih during this break and gain some reward, as well as taking a break, without even moving from your seat! You can even perform wudu and pray 2 rakah Nafl prayer, this will not only get you reward but also freshen you up and calm your mind.
Identify your strong and weak subjects and mix them up on your study plan. You don't want to become de-motivated by lumping the difficult ones together or overconfident by putting all the easier ones together.
I had a tendency myself to take the relax last minute type approach for exams.
Only when I saw the biggest dosser on my course staying behind late at the library to revise 3 months in advance for final exams that I realised it was time to act. I wrote out the dates for the next 3 months on an A4 sheet of paper and next to them I put the number of days left to my first exam. Realising that time is shorter than I had thought I set about revising daily and I would start after Fajr, studying 50 minutes and then a 10-minute break. By midday I had done 6 sessions. I would take a reasonably long break for lunch and Zuhr and then would sit down again. The evenings I would spend for my own time to relax. Using this technique and by the grace of Allah (without whom nothing would be possible) I managed to get a upper second class degree while most of the others on my course got a lower second class degree.
Despite adopting the means one must recognise that only Almighty Allah can grant success and in your duahs to Him this should be acknowledged (if the asker is not sincere in asking then how can he expect to receive that what he asks?).
My last final piece of advice but the most important 'NEVER NEGLECT YOUR FARDH' no matter how important anything else may seem. The success of any part of your life will be of no consequence or benefit in the hereafter if it is pursued or obtained at the expense of the Fara'idh being neglected.
May Allah swt grant you success in this life and, more importantly, in the hereafter.
PS My breaks between paragraphs keep getting removed!