I have just finished my last set of exams at Cass business school for my MBA, phew! Big sigh of relief! I have had a few days to reflect on what I did well and what I could have improved on it suddenly dawned on me how much my exam revision technique has changed.
When I was at school my approach was simple; create concise study notes and then learn them off by heart. The only tools I used were a pen and paper.
Fast forward to today and my approach to revision is very different. Nowadays I have much better recall and I only revise for a fraction of the time I used to:
Understand the big picture
This is a very important concept for me, once I understand the big picture and how the pieces fit together the detail becomes easy. If you know first principles you do not have to remember the details because you can derive them.
YouTube as a teacher
The hardest exam I took was business economics there was so much to learn and the topics were so abstract. How did I manage it? I did 90% of my revision using YouTube. It is amazing that I barely looked at my lecture notes and still managed to learn the syllabus. I think the reason is that having different people discuss the same topic in different ways helps to give a more rounded view. Also I found that strong vocal accents help greatly for recall as my brain remembers things out of the ordinary.
Using your fellow students is something that I have never utilised before. I had a couple of small group sessions where we each presented a few topics to the group and took questions. If you can explain a concept to someone else chances are you understand it very well.
Using both sides of the brain
In order for knowledge to stick in my head I realised that I needed to use a range of techniques:
- Visual learning – videos, mind maps, linked stories
- Audio learning – lecture recordings, podcasts, topical radio discussions
- Kinaesthetic learning – active note taking, scribbling ideas on whiteboards
In twelve years my eldest son will start on his first major set of exams and it will be fascinating to see what tools and techniques are available for him to use in the future.