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09 September 2008 @ 12:05 am
Revision/Study Tips  
*waves* Hi, I'm Melanie, and I'm delighted to have been chosen to write for l&l :] I'm 19, from the UK, and currently studying Japanese at Oxford University. During term time you can usually find me in Starbucks slaving away over homework, pretending to be well-bred and pretentious, both of which I am not.

My first entry's a bit on the tl;dr side, but I've been thinking a lot about revision and study tips in general, as I have exams at the start of every term :( These are all my own personal tips, so feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments :]

The truth is.. I am a bad student. My first year started off terribly disorganised and revision time was hell. I picked up a bit in my last term, and I'm determined to make this year much better. So these are a case of do as I say, not as I do, haha.

Seriously, keep your notes organised. Get some ringbinders and label them by subject/topic/whatever. As soon as you get back to your room, type your notes up if that works for you, and FILE THEM. I didn't do this, and when it came to revision time I had to waste hours and hours sorting out piles of paper before I could actually use anything.

2. Note taking
Before I went to uni, I'd never been to a lecture, and I kind of assumed that I'd just know what to do naturally. I didn't, and my first few sets of notes were a complete mess. My method now is: prepare a page before I go with a heading, date, lecturers name etc., so that I'll always know what those notes are on. In the lecture I write in bullet point format, leaving plenty of space between sections on different areas so that things don't get jumbled together. I try to write down everything the lecturer is saying, but very quickly. This means some things won't make sense if I look at them a few days later, so I really recommend typing your notes up that very same night. It doesn't take long, and it's a huge help in the long run.

3. Making notes from books
Always, always, always write down all the information you'll need for your bibliography at the top of the page, and always, always, always write down the page number for any quotes you write down. This sounds sooo obvious, but for my first essay I didn't write down any page references in my notes, and had to go through all the books again searching for them :(

4. Highlighting
Highlighting is my best friend, but also my worst enemy. On the one hand, it's really really helpful to highlight key information so you can find it quickly when you're revising. On the other hand, I tend to spend way too much time highlighting in pretty colours rather than actually learning anything. But it's definitely one of the most useful revision tools.

5. Revision, revision, everywhere!
When it comes to revision time, keep something to revise around you at all times. Posters in your room, an audio CD playing while you're doing something else, or revision cards in your pocket. Flashcards are great, you can pull them out whenever you have a spare moment, like when you're waiting for the bus. You might look like a nerd, but it'll be worth it in the end ;)

6. Extra reading
Although extra reading is optional, treat it as though it's compulsory. A lot of my course mates said the whole 'of course we're not going to do it, it's optional'.. then actually went and did it. Leaving me looking like the idiot. Of course, make everything else a priority, but do try and fit it in if you have time. If you do it as you're going along, it means you don't have to read 10 extra books the night before the exam.

7. Time management
Do homework the day you get it. I get homework set every day and, being the procrastinator that I am, by the end of the week I have at least 7 pieces to do, meaning that my weekends end up being no fun at all. In fact, this tip is my main resolution for next year.

8. Timetabling
When it gets closer to exam time, I find it really helpful to make a revision time table, so I can work out exactly what I need to get done, and when I should do it. Unfortunately, the hard part is actually sticking to it.

9. Create the right environment
My friend likes to study along with jazz music and a glass of scotch. Personally, that would send me to sleep.. I need upbeat music and lots and lots of coffee. Whatever helps you to study, do it.

10. Take some time out
If you're stressed, you won't study well. It's important to make some time for yourself, maybe a break to watch your favourite TV show, or have a nice relaxing bath. However, in my experience it's never good to take a full day off from homework/revision, because then it's hard to get back in to it. If you want a day off, why not just do half an hour just after you've woken up, and then you'll still feel like you've actually done something that day.

...And you can be sure I have lots more where these came from!
Current Location: UK
Current Mood: motivated
Joanie: dream teamjoaniemaloney on September 8th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
This community is amazing - I've been needing help lately and all the posts have been perfect.

I agree completely with your tips on note-taking & essay writing. It's a hassle to jot down everything, but it saves so much trouble to find that particular quote if it turns out to be something useful. Proper citation is key.

Thank you for these! Possibly saving this list.;)
Joanie: lonelyjoaniemaloney on September 8th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
And reading your intro, I have to add that I'm in the exact same situation as you are - I'm also a uni student and my first year was horrific. This year's just started and it looks to be busier than ever.

Good luck.:)
★Cara★fathomthis on September 8th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks! My term starts in October (2nd year) and I have to say I'm dreading it.. all the students I talk to in the years above say things like 'oh I wish I was back in 1st year, it was so easy', and I'm like 'well if that's supposed to be easy...'. Help!

Anyway, I'm glad to hear my tips have been helpful :]
(Deleted comment)
★Cara★fathomthis on September 8th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I'm at St. Hilda's, and starting this year there's gonna be BOYS for the first time ever :O How do you find Cambridge? :]
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coco__: stresscoco__ on September 9th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
I haven't heard anything about NH going mixed - where did you hear this?
(Deleted comment)
coco__coco__ on September 9th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
Yes I am quite clear on it being renamed. I however have not heard anything from students or fellows about it going co-ed. Could you kindly tell me if you have anything which separates this from mere rumour? Because I suspect that's all it is.
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous) on September 9th, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)
I should point out that the amount that it's being talked about and by the particular people that are saying it is what lead me to believe it was quite serious.
coco__coco__ on September 9th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
No matter how strong the inference it's not confirmed so you can't really make the claim.
coco__coco__ on September 9th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
I just don't like it when you make generalised statements as fact when you really have no basis other than rumour. Ros Smith and Steve Edwards chose New Hall to give their endowment to primarily because of its all-female status. I quote,

"Why New Hall? Dame Rosemary founded the College to increase places for women in a profoundly male university. The College selected its students in a new, open way, making more places available to women and more accessible to women from ordinary backgrounds."

So it just seems very unlikely that it would be admitting male students any time soon.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - coco__ on September 9th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
coco__coco__ on September 9th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
OMG I didn't realise St Hilda's had finally gone mixed. Do Oxford have no all girls colleges now? I'm at Homerton, Cambridge :)
Nicoleeverywastedkiss on September 9th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
In case you choose to do a continuation of this post, my one huge essential thing is my planner. I would be so lost without it! I am able to keep everything in one place, and know what my homework is, when it's due, when papers/tests are due, etc. It helps soooo much with time management. It's a habit that was ingrained in me since about 6th grade, and I can't imagine life without it.

Also, I keep a dry erase board by my desk at home where I make sure to write important due dates and homework assignments so I can just keep track of it that way, too. I keep the next few days to a week up there so I know what's coming up in the future.

Your tips are great, especially the one about taking time out for yourself! I think we all push ourselves a little too much sometimes and that little break can really make a huge difference.
sunday_best on September 9th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
I purchased my dry erase board at K to the Mart for eleven dollars. Mine is perfect because it has a calendar and a small section to jot down notes. There's a small cork board at the bottom where I can also tack on photos and maybe different magazine clippings that inspire me to stick to my goals!

Oh, also. If it's a particularly weak subject and you're being test, go over your notes every single night before that test. I completed a test in a record breaking time and still got an A because of that.

Edited at 2008-09-09 01:46 am (UTC)
Nicoleeverywastedkiss on September 9th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Ohh so you got a really nice one. :D I just got one from Office Max for $3.50 for a day-by-day kind of thing. I'm jealous of yours, though! I might have to invest in one.

I agree that going over your notes every night is the best idea. Cramming is never very effective.
kisslock: do the dancequatrequarts on September 9th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
you know what, this post is really helpful... especially the part about note-taking. i'm quite at a loss during lectures and usually i'll end up taking down nonsensical notes. thanks for the tips, i'll definitely try it out. :)
for you.: not in this realmespecial on September 9th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
nice post :)
i'm about to go back to do an MRes and am promising myself i will be a better student second time around!
good luck with your second year, you certainly sound as though you've got the right attitude etc.!
uneekdiva: Mary Juneekdiva on September 9th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
This came at perfect timing. I'm adding it to memories and I do hope to hear more input on this subject as this semester is my heaviest load I've ever taken on and I am doing my best to stay organized and on top of things.
dressedddressedd on September 9th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
This post is really helpful! It's my first year in University and it's definitely something I need. I had my first lecture today and basically typed it out when I got back, yayy haha
★ CL  ★: 小梅 --- studyingamaikoryori on September 9th, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Hi Melanie! :Dv How are you finding Japanese? I miss it. I finished all my credits required for the Japanese major. *CRY*

The study tips are so useful. I need to take more notice of my time management skills..... :x
sporty spiceremus on September 9th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this, it's so helpful! I agree with everything you said here.

Do you have any tips on timetabling? :D
lisa maylisamayday on September 9th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC)
Fantastic post!
Lots of great tips, I'm a bit of a procrastinator myself but I'm trying to get more organised.

Thankyou! xoxo
flylily on September 9th, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC)
as a first semester college student, i thank you so much for this!!
.pandaaa on September 18th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
I;m starting univeristy for the second time soon; i went away to Leeds university and my dad got sick so i came home. Besides, i was wasting my degree there, i was just partying all the time. Now, i'm starting Essex university to study History, and i'm really on top of the work, ive been reading all summer and taking notes from the coursebooks, and this was great to read.
I've been looking on advice to just... doing well haha

thank you, adding to mems.
i visited oxford last week, it's beautiful :)
Janachristina6644 on November 2nd, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
Thankyou so much for this. Im in my first year and my end of year exams are just weeks away. Im very very behind and this post has inspired me to finally throw myself into study boot camp :P

Thankyou ♥
secretdiary137secretdiary137 on November 10th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
Do your homework the day you get it
I especially agree with the idea of do your homework the day you get it (if you are as much of a procrastinator as I am, don't even put it off until the evening - just sit in the library after your lecture and get it all done). It will also reinforce what you learned in your lecture, and then you have plenty of time to go and ask your lecturer about what you didn't understand in your homework before they try to spring the next topic on you next week.
thatmissinred on December 23rd, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Mem'd. Thank you so much for writing this! I'm a fresher, so I'm still hiding behind the excuse that 'The first year doesn't count' but I doubt that excuse will hold.

Love from,
a fellow Japanese student
Priyaraconteur99 on January 4th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
It's nothing I've never heard before, but my god, it helps so much to hear them repeated. My school is filled with college courses, so these will really be awesome and helpful. :)