It wouldn’t come as a surprise that, in my role as lecturer, I always say to students that it is better to study throughout the term than to leave everything to the last minute. It is, indeed, much more efficient to take bits of information as the term progresses than trying to swallow 3 or 5 months of knowledge in a sleepless night. But, of course, if you’re reading this, then chances are you still have some way to go in terms of being ready for your exams. If this is the case, I would like to give you 5 pieces of advice which may be helpful to you:
Remember the first day of term? Your lecturers would have given you handbooks, readings lists and module outcomes. Some students think of these as a useless pile of photocopies. But there lies the structure of what you would have studied during last term. Something as simple as repeating to yourself the title of the module would help you focus during those moments in the library when your class notes read like random, disconnected writings.
Make sure you have all the necessary reading materials. Make a list of texts which should’ve been read for seminars, as well as ebooks and textbooks in the library. But be realistic. You can’t read in a week what you were supposed to read in three months. Make a realistic reading plan of daily readings and stick to it.
Once you have a clear idea in your mind of what it is that you’re supposed to study, draw a mind map. It should include the list of topics covered, key concepts, and connections between all ideas. But do not set this map in stone. As you carry on with your study, you may feel some changes may be necessary. This is good!! It means you’re absorbing knowledge and making it your own.
Have plenty of breaks and at least one day a week for resting. After you go back to your desk you’ll feel books and texts are much easier to understand.
And finally, do not believe everything your book says. Being critical is one of the most important skills at university. If you’re writing an essay, build your own argument. If you’re studying for an exam, don’t be afraid to point out contradictions in the theory or disagreements between authors. Life is not black or white, but a myriad of grey tones.