Top Tips on Tackling Exams - Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our series of advice from our very own GTA. This week Ej discusses the importance of timing revision sessions effectively.

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Cramming a few days before your exams is not an effective technique because the information does not have strong encoding, which is what it needs to be transferred into the long-term memory. Over time we forget things (also known as the forgetting curve), however, if we can interrupt the forgetting, then it can take us a lot longer for us to forget things (Ebbinghaus, 1985). 

One way of interrupting the forgetting is to look at the same/similar information again. Similar information e.g. reading another journal, book, or a media clip on the same topic – this helps to strengthen encoding.  

Also, the times when you interrupt your forgetting is important. You should revisit the topic the next day, 3 days later, a week later, a fortnight later and then a month later.  

Another way this can be achieved is by writing essays. You should start by researching information to write an essay the same/similar length to what would be expected in the exam. Then attempt to recreate those essays under timed conditions a week, fortnight and month later. Create your own essays, if possible, to write about. Share these essays amongst your peers so that you can create a bank of essay answers i.e. this is active revision!  

Doing this regularly in spaced intervals (discussed above) ensures we reinforce the encoding into the long-term memory and thus we can significantly reduce the forgetting curve.  

Other tips include revise information in different orders to help with spaced repetition. For example, revise week 3 topic, then week 12, then week 1, then go back to week 3, revise week 9, go back to week 12 and so on. 

Ebbonghaus (1985) Annals of Neurosciences. Available here. Accessed: 25/03/2021 



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