It’s very easy to sit down during swotvac and…just kind of look at some notes. While that can be useful, it’s not really the most effective way to revise. Having some handy study techniques on stand-by is the best way to avoid googling “how do I study” from the library. We put together a list of our favourites!
1. Power Hour
A power hour is a simple technique that’ll help you really focus on your work. All you need is your study materials, a clock and a blank piece of paper. Put your phone away, turn off everything you don’t actually need for study (including your WiFi), and for 60 minutes you are only allowed to do your work. If you have a distracting thought – like “I need to reply to that email” – write it down on the piece of paper so you can get back to it later, and keep working. If an hour feels like too much, start with 10 minutes and work your way up. This technique is really handy if you’re the type of person who is always putting off tasks or gets easily distracted.
2. Asking questions
Rather than passively reading and attempting to recite pages and pages of information, write your study notes out in a question and answer format. This way you can see exactly which concepts you’ll be able to answer questions on in your exam, and which ones you’ve missed. This engages your brain a lot more than reading over theory again and again.
Totally old school, but totally awesome. It’s a lot less daunting trying to memorise information from a set of beautiful, colour-coordinated flashcards with a couple of dot points on each card, rather than a giant Onenote page full of complex information! They’re also very handy for studying on public transport. If you don’t want to use hard-copy flashcards, there are heaps of apps you can download instead. Quizlet and Anki are both good tools for online flashcards!
Summarising your lectures, and then summarising those summaries, is a great way of getting your head around content-heavy lectures, especially if you’re worried that the exam will test you on every little detail. Write up detailed lecture notes, and then summarise these notes. Then, use that summary to make an even shorter summary which includes only the key concepts and points. When it’s time to revise, start with your simplest summary and once you’re comfortable with that, work your way back up until you’re back at the more detailed concepts. This method is also very handy if you’re cramming, because you can make sure that even if you don’t know every single detail you’ll at least have an understanding of the key concepts and definitions.
5. Pomodoro Timing
Those of you who speak Italian might be wondering what on Earth tomato timing is, but trust us – it’s a great technique! Pomodoro Timing is basically a time management skill to help improve your study habits. Someone somewhere has figured out that we are most efficient when we work for 20 minutes straight on a given task, take a break for 5 minutes, and repeat. If you want to give it a go, here is a fun video explaining it in more detail!
If you’ve got a closed book exam, a really easy way to remember a lot of information is to condense it into an anagram. For example, if you wanted to remember the elements of trademark infringement – Identical/confusingly similar trademark, no legitimate interest in the name, and bad faith – you can simply remember I.L.B. If you attach extra meaning to your anagram, like I Love Bread, it’ll become even easier to remember. Once you get into your exam, write down any anagrams you remember as soon as you’re able to, so that you can focus on the questions uninterrupted and not forget any of them if you start feeling overwhelmed!
7. Mind Maps
Never underestimate the power of a mind map. They are a wonderful way to go about organising your information, and demonstrating relationships between concepts. Get out some textas and butcher’s paper and go nuts! Alternatively, Simplemind and draw.io are great programs for making mind maps on your computer.