Confession time: Up until the age of about seventeen, I saw revision as fairly optional.
I’ve always been one of those prats who is content to rest on their laurels until about three weeks before the exam and then frantically work to catch up. Unfortunately for me this largely worked, and it wasn’t until Year 12 results day that I got the kick in the teeth which had been a long time coming.
University, however, is a whole new ball game.
Even on modules which are 100% assessed at the end of the term, it is very difficult to coast. If you don’t do the required reading then you won’t really understand the lecture in full and seminars become a tedious task when you have nothing to bring to the table. So figuring out where and when you work best is very important.
Personally, I work best between about 11 am and 2 pm. I realise this probably sounds like a very dull thing to have spent time working out, but when you have a stack of reading to do it’s important to take into account the chances that you will fall asleep at your desk if you try to keep going until midnight. There’s also a significant difference between reading something and actually processing it. Any reading done after eleven at night has a tendency to go in one ear and out the other with me.
I’ve tried studying in the library. I really have – but for some reason it just doesn’t appeal to me. I usually only study in the library if I want to eliminate all distractions and power through a piece of work, but as you might have guessed, that’s not really my style. For me, my essays come together best when I give myself adequate dithering time. I type two hundred words or so then go and make some toast or make a cup of tea, then I come back and tap away a few more hundred words, etc. This dithering time lets me organise my ideas better, but it’s a bit annoying for the person sitting next you in the library, so I do most of my work in my room.
(I have also tried studying in Unio, the union run café, but other people’s conversations are often more exciting than essays on literary realism, however hard you try to concentrate.)
Beyond the obvious (getting a good degree), it’s important to have small motivators to keep you working when you’d much rather be in the union bar. This can range from allowing yourself to take a break every hour to watch funny cat vines, to finding that 80’s playlist that gets you pumped. Each to their own.
This probably all sounds rather dull, I know that 17 year old me didn’t care about such things. But once you get to university it’s vital to understand how you work if you want to keep on top of all your work. And because frankly, it makes your life a lot easier, which is what all students want right?
So, to steal one of the Delphic oracles maxims; ‘Know thyself’.