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Academic literacies Skills Team

Strategies to make your revision successful

Revising your work and the information you’re studying is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a high-level understanding of those subjects and high-quality work. Students in every subject area can benefit from a well-thought-out revision plan. Today we’ll discuss some of the different revision methods you can use, and how you can use feedback and revising drafts to your benefit. 

Study methods for revision

John Weightman & Codey McShane  

There are a wide range of possible techniques that may be useful to you when revising. The most important thing is to find what works for you. Everyone uses a combination of different learning styles throughout their academic study, and these will be unique to that student. That said, here are some example techniques that may be useful to you.

Leitner Flash Cards

The Leitner system is a revision technique using flashcards. The idea is to create your flashcards for the subject you are revising for and sort the individual flashcards into groups depending on how well you know the knowledge on the card. You then pull a flashcard from the group you remember the least from and attempt to recall the knowledge on its back. If you succeed, you can send it one box further along the line. If you fail, you send the flashcard back to the first group.

Index Cards, Cards, Paper

Groups of flashcards you know quite well should be revised less frequently than those you are having trouble with. This way, you’re focusing on the gaps in your knowledge, while still refreshing yourself on what you already know every so often.  

Mind Mapping 

Mind mapping is a technique that allows you to visually organize information in a diagram. Start with a word in the centre of a blank page (or use a tool online) and around this write your major ideas and keywords and connect them to the central concept. Then branch out into sub-branches from your major ideas with other related ideas that support your major points. You could also consider using different colours for each branch and draw pictures if it helps. The structure of a mind map is related to the way our brains store and retrieve information. Therefore, using this method can improve your reading comprehension and enable you to see the big picture by communicating the relationships between concepts and ideas. 

Mindmap - Free image on Pixabay

Colour Coding 

Writing in colour is a dynamic way to organize the information you’re learning. It also helps you review and prioritize the important ideas. A recent study found that colour can improve your memory performance. The study also found that warm colours (red and yellow) “can create a learning environment that is positive and motivating that can help learners” It also reported that warmer colours “increase attention and elicit excitement and information.” 

Consider these tips: 

  • Write down key points in red. 
  • Highlight important information in yellow. 
  • Organize topics by colour. 
  • Don’t just colour everything because then nothing will stand out
Learn Sharpie Markers GIF by Sharpie - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro Technique was originally created by Francesco Cirillo in 1999. This method has been widely used by thousands of students for over 20 years. The method is based on studying in timed intervals. Cirillo actually named it after the timer he used which was shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian). Cirillo found that breaking large tasks up into smaller manageable timed units is the most effective way to study. 

  1. Decide what you want to study and for how long. Then break your work into Pomodoro’s. 
  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes and start studying. (There are many pomodoro apps available or you can follow along with someone’s study session on YouTube). 
  1. Minimize distractions during each interval. If a thought pops into your head write it down.  
  1. After 25 minutes take a short break. Have a tea or a coffee, go for a walk, call your friend, or just relax. 
  1. Then just repeat and after 4 Pomodoro’s take a longer break for 20-30 minutes. 

The Feynman Technique 

This technique is one that I find quite useful. It doesn’t require any extra resources, as all you need to do is take a concept you’re revising and pretend to teach it to someone else – specifically, a child. As you take a particular subject and pretend to explain it to a child, look for the gaps in your own understanding. Explaining a particular concept to someone else out loud can be an excellent way to realize exactly what it is you don’t understand fully yet. 

After refreshing yourself on the knowledge you didn’t fully understand, there is a final step. Simplify your explanation. Using analogies is a suggested way to do this, as analogies are easy to recall and explain, and require you to omit any specialized jargon.  

This also prevents you from merely committing facts to memory. If you’re able to take a concept, reduce it to its simplest form, and then explain it in a different way, you’re more likely to understand the concept. 

The Preview, Questions, Read, Recite, Review method 

This method (also called PQ3R) is potentially a more natural way of understanding academic textbooks. It encourages asking questions to facilitate your learning, as well as understanding the context surrounding the facts you’ll be learning. Following the PQ3R method in order should help you have a streamlined study method that will work every time. 

Preview: Before you dive into any source material, it’s important to understand what it is you’re about to read. With a chapter in a textbook, this means reading the chapter title, introduction, subheadings, the first sentences of each paragraph, and finally, the chapter summary. 

Questions: During the Preview step, you should take note of any questions that are raised by the initial text you are reading. This will help you to become active in your study, and you should keep these questions in mind during the next step, Read. 

Read: That’s right, it’s reading time. Read the chapter now, paying attention to any text that is specifically emphasized by highlighting or bold text. Look at all the graphs and illustrations, including their captions, and reread anything that you didn’t quite get the first time. 

Recite: If there are any questions that come at the end of this chapter, now is the time to complete them, as well as your own questions that you recorded during the preview step. 

Review: A couple of days after finishing the previous steps, you can perform the Review step. Attempt to summarize the chapter. See if you can answer the questions that you created and those in the text easily, having already done so before. How confident are you that you could explain the content in this chapter to another student? 

Revising your revision techniques 

Joanna Rawnsley

You may not think honing your skills and looking back on your techniques is revision, but when you do this, you are actually revising your techniques which results in them developing.  

Before starting an assessment, going back to basics will help familiarise yourself with how its structured and how to get the best possible grades. For example, if you’ve been asked to write an essay, revising essay structures and academic writing will make for a better outcome. For more guidance on essay writing, we have a whole guide on it: Essay Writing Skills Guide. 

If you’re a creative, honing your craft is a key part of your course – writing, drawing, any kind of creative skill needs to be continuously used to help it develop. Have you ever not drawn for a period and when you get back into it, you seem to not be able to draw anymore? You obviously haven’t lost your capabilities; you just haven’t been exercising your drawing muscles. Once you start drawing again, you’ll find your techniques starting to develop once again.  

This isn’t only for creatives though. If you’ve been using a computer software, you need to keep up to date with it to build your knowledge on how to use it. The same goes for health practitioners, who must always have more training when new medical practices are found.  

As a writer, I continuously revise narrative structures, planning techniques, and poetic form. I write whenever I get the chance to develop my writing, but I also read craft books and fiction/poetry in the genre and form I am writing in. This helps me familiarise myself with the genre and its narrative structure, but also any devices other authors use that may make my writing stronger.  

Therefore, revising techniques and honing your skills is important when it comes to the revision process. 

For more information and guidance on revision, processes check out our Skills Guide. 

Categories
General

Procrastination & Time Management

Learning how to manage your time effectively is crucial to any student’s time at university, but also something you will need to take into any job/career. We, interns, are no different, the techniques we learnt as students to help us tackle procrastination have helped us manage our time whilst in our current roles. Here are some tips from each of us to help you with your studies (and avoid procrastination along the way!).

A photograph of alarm clocks. Procrastination can make time disappear!
Image from pixabay: Alarm clocks

Beating procrastination the old fashioned way

By Joanna Rawnsley

I’m old fashioned because I keep everything in a paper diary, if I keep things on my phone, I end up looking at them more often which leads to me procrastinating. When doing my work, I always put my phone out of my line of sight: out of sight, out of mind. Back when I was doing my assignments, I’d even turn it off, or onto “do not disturb” and put it in a drawer. That way I wouldn’t be distracted by notifications, and I’d be solely focused on the task at hand.

Speaking of tasks, every morning before I start work, I write a daily to-do list for that day. As I go about my day, I tick off any tasks I’ve completed, you don’t realise how satisfying it is to tick off tasks until you do it. I also write down any deadlines in my diary when I get them, so I always know when things need to be in. I do, however, use my phone for reminders. Having an “annoying” alarm going off helps remind me of meetings and deadlines, this way I’m less likely to forget things and I always have a calendar handy.

via GIPHY

Another way to help with procrastination is taking short breaks between classes, studying and work, especially if you’re working at a screen. Now bear with me, I’m serious about this! It’s good to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest and stretch your legs. According to the Well-being Thesis taking “micro-breaks” throughout your workday will not only improve productivity but will also help with stress and your overall well-being. Getting a drink and/or talking to a peer for a few minutes helps you relax and then when you go back to your work, you will be more focused and more efficient. This also helps prevent you from burning out at the end of each day. I for one have been known to turn my laptop off and spend my evenings scrolling through social media and watching TV due to feeling lethargic after work. So, take breaks when you can and stay hydrated!

Now I’m going to go get a drink and take a micro-break of my own.


Time management in the workplace

By David Moore

Throughout this Internship, I have had to schedule my time between different people and their required designs. How I started this, is a week at a time and planned the following week ahead of time for example on one occasion I had to finish editing videos and complete Halloween designs in the same week. I was stressed at first but planning and preparation and doing the video first left me enough time to complete two designs a day so I could finish the work by Friday. What stopped me from getting distracted was I tried to mix my design work, so I was not doing the same work repeatedly. So, one day I would do videos on After Effects and on another day, I would create my own images on Photoshop and create slides and descriptions of work ideas for new images on PowerPoint or I would separate hours of the day to do a mixture of them all.

This is my first work experience and I have found the time management quite challenging as I am not a morning person as it took some time to get used to the hours but once I got into a routine, I have enjoyed my experience. It is important to me to keep a routine, so I do not lose track of where I am.

via GIPHY


Avoiding procrastination with the right mindset

By Codey McShane

For me, the most important aspect of managing procrastination and my time for study was getting into the correct mindset. While I was at university, I found it easy to beat myself up for procrastinating, which would only make me want to study less. When thinking about doing my work evoked feelings of guilt or made me feel under intense pressure, it became way harder to get anything done at all. For me, what helped was accepting and forgiving myself for procrastinating – there was no point dwelling on what I’d already done, and all I could change was what I was going to do. I didn’t pretend that it hadn’t happened, but I recognized that I could still turn things around and give myself a fresh start.

via GIPHY

It was incredibly freeing to be able to let go of these feelings of anxiety and realize that so long as I began working now, whatever I produced would be the best work I could’ve done starting from my fresh start. Of course, this isn’t a method that will work for everyone – there is no magical cure-all for feelings of anxiety or stress that may prevent you from being able to work. The answer may be different for you (e.g., therapy, medication, journaling, exercise, dieting, mindfulness/meditation). But if you can get yourself into the right frame of mind in whatever way works for you, I found it way easier to apply some simple methods to mitigate my procrastination.

Here are some tips that worked for me:

  • Structure your time.
     The simple act of creating a daily schedule for when I would study helped a lot. Having a planned-out routine for when I would study and when I could relax made it a lot easier to power through it.
  • Find your incentive to work.
     Once I planned out exactly what and when I was going to be studying, I got a big sense of satisfaction by being able to cross that task off my list when I had finished doing it. Figure out what motivates you and use that to your advantage.
  • Starting is the hardest part.
    Once I was studying, I tended to not get distracted. But getting there in the first place sometimes felt impossible. Studying when you don’t want to requires discipline; I had to do the work even though I didn’t want to. It helped me to think things like “Just do this first task, and then you can stop if you need to.” Once I’d completed that first task I was past those initial feelings and could then continue with my schedule.

Cutting distractions to avoid procrastination

By John Weightman

Procrastination was a problem for me when I first started out as a student so much so that I would sometimes have YouTube clips playing in the background while I was supposed to be concentrating on work. However, I soon realized I couldn’t keep doing this as even though I would get the work done it would take much longer and lead to stress as deadlines loomed. As has already been mentioned one way to solve this was to turn off my phone or other distractions. But sometimes we find it difficult so what I would occasionally do is listen to relaxing sounds or music nothing loud or distracting. It was just something that helped me concentrate though now more frequently I also go along with the method of just turning off my phone.

A photograph of a mobile phone sitting on top of a book. This kind of set up leads to procrastination! Put the phone away and out of sight.
Image from Pixabay

Another good way to avoid procrastination is to think about the different places you have been when studying where were you the most focused? Where were you most distracted? Is there anything you can do to make studying enjoyable?

So, in my case, the music made it more enjoyable for me and I also found that working in a different environment to the one where I spent my free time was beneficial. For example, as a student, I found I did more work in the library than I did in my room as there were just more distractions but at the library, the people around me were working which motivated me to work. I carried this on after I was a student too as when I’m working now, I have a separate room where I can do work and it doesn’t have things like a PlayStation.

It is important to remember though that what works for one person might not necessarily work for you.  For example, studying with friends may limit your productivity. But for others, studying in groups can help to increase motivation and avoid procrastination.

Managing time

So, if we have got our procrastination under control how would I manage the time I have to work. Breaks as we have covered are important, I would often do something fun which for me is playing the guitar. I would say right I am going to write for maybe an hour then I’ll play the guitar for 20 minutes and let my mind concentrate on something else. Alternatively, you could try something like exercise which you may not believe but actually works in the same way sleep does. It can focus your state of mind, helping you to clear your head and boost your brainpower in between study sessions. If you don’t exercise much maybe aim for a 10-minute run/workout here and there, steadily increasing the amount you do as you go on.

via GIPHY

Finally, as a history student planning and research was also very important for me. If I managed my time well it would allow me to process new information and plan how I was going to use it which can help you to avoid having to re-read and repeat any research. One way of effectively planning before researching is to make a list of everything you want to find out so that you can make notes below each subheading as you go. Rather than writing out information just anywhere, if it is stored in the correct place on paper, it will then go to the correct place in my mind.

Categories
Library services

Launch of the Family Room in the Brynmor Jones Library

Katie Austin

The photograph shows the Library's new Family Room. The room has a desk and computer for work, while the floor has lots of child-friendly resources. There are decorations on the wall and a mat on the floor to make the space more welcoming for our little visitors.

As an inclusive and welcoming campus, we are delighted here at the Hull University Library to launch a study room for students with children. A third of our student population are mature learners, many of whom are also managing family life as well as academic studies.

The large group learning room on the ground floor has been converted into a child-friendly room which can be booked out for students needing to access the library facilities whilst also juggling childcare.

So if you have a deadline looming during school holidays, need to drop in to print something out or simply prefer studying in our wonderful library building, please know that your children are very welcome to join you.

The ground floor is pushchair friendly and we also have a baby change and nappy disposal bin located within the café toilets.

If you need books collecting from the library floors, you can use the Library Live Chat to make a request during staffed hours. A member of staff will gladly bring these over to you.

The Family Room aims to take away any added pressures students with children may face while completing their academic studies on campus. Feedback from previous students with children has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to welcoming our first bookings throughout October.

Ali Craig

As always, please direct any comments or suggestions to the Library Feedback page.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Katie Austin, our Equality Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator who has meticulously planned for this launch. It’s been a long time in the making.

Ali Craig
Operations Director & Head of Customer Experience