By Leanne Goodall

Here are five tips to help with your revision for that tricky Open University exam

So you have an exam coming up and you just don’t know where to start with your revision, right? Me too. Well, at least I thought so but then I realised that I’m actually panicking and have acquired some pretty good revision tips along the way. I’m about to take my final level two exam and I’ve jotted down some of the revision tips that I’ve found to be really useful. Maybe they’ll help you too.

1 – Work out what to revise

You probably don’t need to know everything that you’ve ever been taught and so your first task is to find out which bits are actually relevant to your exam and break the huge task down into something much more manageable. To do this, speak to your tutor, ask on forums and look at the questions that have been asked on previous papers. You’ll be able to eliminate lots of stuff and get a core section of material that you need to revise well.

2 – Make a Timetable

For some a strict timetable works really well but others prefer to be less restricted. My advice would be to start by making a basic timetable that gives you specific time slots in which to revise. If nothing else then this will help you get into the swing of things and focus on the task in hand. Try to make lots of shorter time slots for your revision as our brains can only take in so much at any one time. I try to allocate slots of about an hour and a half with lots of mini slots of about 20 minutes. It doesn’t always work out that way for me as I often get too drawn in and spend several hours revising but I know the shorter sessions are more effective!

Use DVDs, CDs, podcasts, posters, silly songs, post-it notes, mind-maps, flash cards or whatever you fancy trying

3 – Practice Writing

Is your exam handwritten? Then trust me you need to practice writing. Partly to make sure that your examiner can read everything clearly but also because your hand is likely to get very tired if it is constantly writing for 3 hours. My advice is to handwrite as much of your revision notes as possible and write practice answers to previous questions – in full length. That way you’ll be building up the muscles in your hand and giving it the best chance of making it through the exam on the day!

4 – Exam Conditions

I think it’s really important to try at least 2 practice exams at home. You might revise lots of facts and information but you rarely get asked to recall straight forward facts in the exam. Set yourself up with a timer and a set of exam questions and see how you go. You’ll probably find that you need longer to understand the question and plan your answer than you think. You’ll have to work out how to include those facts that you’ve learned and how to apply them to the question. Then you need to see how much you get written in the time you have. Were you on track or do you need to work on making your answers more concise (like me)? Maybe you’ve finished way before your time and need to consider if you’ve included enough in your answer. Either way, a real practice can throw up some areas that you need to work on and allow you time to correct them before the real thing.

5 – Mix it up

Reading books for hours on end to memorise every detail is boring. Mix up your revision sessions. Use DVDs, CDs, podcasts, posters, silly songs, post-it notes, mind-maps, flash cards or whatever you fancy trying. Mixing things up will help your brain wake up and take in the information better – and you’ll have much more fun doing it.

Leanne is half way through a BA (Hons) in History with the Open University and enjoys writing as a freelancer as well as on her personal blog, Growing my Knowing, where she catalogues here experiences as a student. You can catch up on all of Leanne’s excellent contributions for STOU here.

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The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.

The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.