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7 Best Exam Revision Strategies for Your Learning Style

9th May 2017 Posted by: Cristina Radulescu

EXAM season is undoubtedly the most nerve-racking time of year. Very few students walk into an exam room confident that they will truly nail their assessment. Sometimes, it’s just the pressure of an exam that makes us fluster and forget chunks of what we’ve revised. Other times, we have no strategy at all and we’re hopeful that we can wing it. However, more often than not, it’s poor preparation altogether that prevents us from achieving our best in exams.

The New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey, argues in his book ‘How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why it Happens’ that most students don’t need to study more in order to do better in exams, merely to study smarter.

But what does that entail? At a core level it means acknowledging that study is not one-method-suits-all. All students are different, which means that they have different ways of processing information. Finding the right revision strategy for you is a key element of revision. Harvard professor Howard Gardner dealt with this predicament during his research of multiple intelligences.

The following paragraphs define each type of learner (according to Gardner) and suggest the best revision tips for them.

VISUAL-SPATIAL LEARNERS

They are students who learn through observing physical space. Although they appear to be day-dreaming a lot during revision, they are actually placing the information they are learning into real space. Because these students have a keen analytical mind, they will have no problem interpreting graphs and will often doodle one on their scratch-paper during the exam so that they can “see” what they are thinking.

Revision Strategy: Draw and colour-code the information you’re revising. You’ll have a better grasp of material if you can visualise it.

MUSICAL LEARNERS

The misconception people have is that this kind of learners is limited to those studying a music-based degree. In fact, it refers to those who absorb more information while listening to music. Their sensitivity to rhythm and sound allows them to relieve stress and organise their thoughts better.

Revision Strategy: Since it’s unlikely that you can listen to music during an exam, try to turn your revision topics into lyrics. Repeating the information in rhyme will allow you to learn the information faster and access it easier in a stressful environment.

LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL LEARNERS

Once again, not a type limited to science-based students, they learn best though abstract learning. These students have high reasoning abilities and are quick to notice patterns in their study material.

Revision Strategy: Whatever the subject of your degree, make sure you begin by studying the concept and theory before the specific details. In a highly stressful exam situation, attempting to recall details will most likely lead to a mind block. However, if you study the underpinning concept, you will find it easier to find an answer to any problem question.

BODILY-KINAESTHETIC LEARNERS

These students are at their best when they revise through movement-based activities (e.g. role play). To them, theory means very little until it’s put into practice and they can witness the outcome of what they are learning.

Revision Strategy: Try to act out the process or phenomenon you’re learning about. Alternatively, if you have the chance, get some experience in the particular field. Hands-on experience will provide you with invaluable insight for your revision.

INTERPERSONAL LEARNERS

They are the students who are most productive in groups or during seminars. They are the most friendly and empathic since they learn best by interacting with others.

Revision Strategy: Group revision is essential when taking in information. You learn best when you have at least one other person to bounce ideas off of and help test you.

INTRAPERSONAL LEARNERS

These are the most independent students. They’re highly motivated by goals they set themselves and organise their study routine in order to achieve them. They prefer revising alone, which is why they are often dismissed as being anti-social. Actually, this proclivity towards solitude is because they are very in tune with their own person and know how to motivate themselves, as opposed to other people.

Revision Strategy: Make sure you begin revising well in advance, as you normally require time to let the information settle. Cramming just days before finals is very stressful for you and will have devastating effects on your grades and your general well-being. Also, set a goal for yourself. Not necessarily an academic one, but something you can strive towards.

LINGUISTIC LEARNERS

Such students have a tendency of “thinking in words”. They have the ability to read volumes on just one topic and somehow remember and synthesise all of it during an exam. They use creative ways of retaining even the most sterile information.

Revision Strategy: Make mnemonic devices your best friend!  This is a method of retaining large amounts of information by coming up with a story, rhyme or acronym that will trigger your memory. If you haven’t used this tactic before, here are some further tips on how to get started.

Let’s hope this list has given you a better insight into your learning style and the revision strategies that suit you the most. If you can't decide, don’t be afraid to mix them up!

Exam pressure getting to you? Make sure you read our guide to the 7 Proven Ways to Reduce Stress at University - and keep a clear head during revision!


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