Taking an exam is like preparing to run a marathon. The sooner you start getting into shape the better your chances of completing the course successfully.
If possible, begin revising four to six weeks before your first exam so that the studying can be broken down into short, regular, sessions spread over many days rather than, as so often happens, being crammed into a few, frantic days.
Although you’ll obviously need to devote more time on subjects you find especially difficult, avoid the mistake of thinking that because you find a subject easy you need not revise it so thoroughly. Such misplaced confidence has caused many students to do badly on just those exams where everybody, including themselves, expected an excellent grade.
It is equally inadvisable to neglect subjects you find especially hard on the assumption that since you are bound to fail revising would be a waste of time. By working intensively on a poorly understood topic students often find that their confusions are resolved and it all begins to make sense. Such perseverance is, of course, especially important when that subject is an essential qualification for entry into the career or further education course you’ve set your heart on.
Maintain a written record of your progress by preparing a timetable on a large sheet of paper which can be pinned up in the room where you revise.
Write the days remaining until to your first exam down the left-hand side of the sheet and the subjects, or topics, being revised, along the top. Draw in vertical and horizontal lines to create a box for every subject against each of the revision days. Next decide how many hours each day you can devote to revision. I suggest that you work only six days a week, allowing the seventh for rest and enjoyment. You might decide, for instance, that you can set aside two hours each weekday and four hours on Saturday. This means you will be revising for a total of 14 hours each week.
Revise for twenty minutes and take a ten minute break between each session. Working for such short periods enhances memory, improves concentration and increases motivation. This allocation of time means you complete two revision periods per hour. Calculate the number of sessions each week by doubling the hours set aside for revision. Next consider how many sessions should be allocated to each subject.
The simplest way is to divide the number of sessions by the number of subjects being revised. If you have 28 sessions to allocated. In the case of four subjects being studied, this would allow you to devote 7 sessions to each.