Monday, 18 May 2009

Exam Tips #4

Don't be so sure

Is there something on your revision checklist you are so confident about that you skip it every time?

Do you feel that a particular subject is so easy and obvious that you don't have to waste time looking at it?

That's usually a sign that you weren't paying attention. You'll probably find there are a lot of aspects you didn't consider, a lot of nuances you haven't appreciated.

You probably think it's easy and simple because you don't know what you don't know.

One of the best "tricks" you can master when it comes to study and revision is to learn to recognise where these gaps in your knowledge are - to know what you don't know.

Take a look at everything you have covered in your notes. Some areas will obviously stand out to you as things you need to know more about, and you will feel compelled to give most of your study time to covering those topics. But make sure you pay close attention to the areas you feel completely confident about.

Why are you so confident? Is it because you have put a good amount of work into those areas, you have done a reasonable amount of research and you already know what the main issues are and how different theorists have addressed those issues?

Or, is it because "everyone knows about that"?

"Everyone knows" a lot of things - except they don't know them very well. In fact, they usually have a very poor and ill informed understanding, which leads to a lot of bad decisions and unfounded judgments. It's obnoxious in casual conversation - it's downright dangerous when going into an exam.

"Everyone knows" how to run and throw a ball, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of information you could learn about these activities - and a lot of "hot-topics" you might not be aware of.

If it bores you, you probably don't know enough about it. If you can't be bothered looking it up, you probably don't know enough about it. If, every time you see it, you are sure you've got it under control... you probably don't know enough about it.

That's the topic that's going to trip you up on the exam, because you're not worried enough to make sure you know as much as you could.

Go through everything on your revision sheet and make sure you can write down a list of the major issues and theories regarding those topics. Don't skip anything, and watch to see where the gaps in your knowledge might be. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

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