We’ve all heard the saying, “the early bird catches the worm”. But just how early should you be starting to think about exam revision?
The answer is: you should have started two years ago in Year 10, why are you even asking, you’re doomed to fail because you hadn’t enrolled in pre-QCE classes from the time you were two.
… That’s all, obviously, a total lie. But, the way some people think, they would have you believing that was the truth.
The truth of the matter is there is no definitive answer as to how early you should be thinking about exams.
My advice in this article is two-fold, and may seem to slightly contradict itself. But hopefully it’ll all tie up in a big neat bow by the end. You should be consistently preparing for exams, but make sure you’re not hitting the point of diminishing marginal utility (more on this later).
Firstly, the idea of constant preparation.
Making sure you’re on top of your workload, and taking small steps throughout the year to prepare for exams, means that by the time September holidays roll around, you won’t be a frazzled mess trying to figure out where your notes are from the first month of classes.
It also helps to ensure you have a good starting point on which to base your revision, once those same holidays do arrive.
There are a number of small steps you can take throughout the year to make sure you’re as stress-free as possible. And you can implement these now if you haven’t been implementing these already.
If you can implement one or more of these ideas by the time September holidays roll around, you can use them to your advantage. Going through a pile of flash cards, for example, will tell you the areas you’ve forgotten within half an hour. Compare this to trying to make those flash cards at the start of Term 4, which could end up taking days.
Why do I keep mentioning the September holidays? Personally, I don’t think there’s much point in beginning your dedicated exam revision before this time.
If you are implementing the aforementioned tips throughout the year, the Term 3 holidays will give you plenty of time to kick butt in the exams, without wearing yourselves out.
This is where the idea of diminishing marginal utility comes into play.
Basically, it’s the notion that for the first few hours you spend revising a concept, you’re getting a lot back in terms of reward. Say, hypothetically (the maths definitely is not going to add up – so get ready for this), for the first 10 hours you spend revising a concept, you get an 80% increase in your knowledge.
However, by the time you hit hour 50, you’ve basically learnt all there is to know.
So, for each additional hour, you might only get a 0.3% increase in your knowledge.
Basically, what I’m saying is that there’s no point having been enrolled in those pre-QCE classes for two-year-olds. You would have easily reached your point of diminishing marginal utility by the time you were five.
You need to ensure you’re using your revision time effectively throughout Year 12. And that means not wasting time revising for eight months, and only seeing two months’ worth of reward.
Long story short: provided you have taken steps throughout the year (or now – it’s not too late to start) to keep track, starting proper exam revision in the September holidays will give you plenty of time to kick some serious QCE butt.
Good luck, and don’t burn yourselves out!