How to revise like a University Challenge winner…

From using flashcards to cramming with purpose, the 2018 University Challenge Champions share their study tips in this short blog.

This year’s final saw St John’s College, Cambridge win the series trophy after impressing Jeremy Paxman with its knowledge of organic chemistry, Anselm of Canterbury and bird poets. But this isn’t merely a team of endearing nerds. Students sitting exams have much to learn from the work ethic of the St John’s squad. Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, John-Clark Levin and James Devine-Stoneman were asked for their revision tips.

Go in with a strategy

The team first prepared for the show by scouring YouTube videos of old episodes to find common topics – and the same approach works with past exam papers, says McKeown. They’ll help you ‘suss’ your weaknesses and the course structure. More so than learning the content of the course, it’s about working out what you need to know and then using your time as efficiently as possible. People approach revision as something separate from the work you’ve been doing all year, which is a mistake. If you look at it as part of the process, then it’s less daunting.”

Repeat to perfection 

Don’t get too complacent about the topics you think you know well, team captain Devine-Stoneman advises. “I try to cover a topic at multiple points in the run-up to the exam. A month or two beforehand, I run through my notes again and again in the days leading up to it. If you don’t have much time, make sure the things you do know, you can ace. It’s usually better to go in with a selection of things you can do very well than a half-hearted knowledge of a range of things.” That way, Hazell adds, you can always try to steer an awkward question back to something you know.

Use flashcards

The team is big on flashcards. Devine-Stoneman uses an app when he gets a free moment in the lab as a PhD student in materials science. McKeown also uses them for both her languages degree and quizzing. “I’ll focus on flashcards in the last steps before the exam,” she says. “I tend to use different colours. Nice stationery is a motivation for me.”

Take breaks with rewards

The team agrees it’s important to have a rewards system in place when studying. McKeown says she always has a puzzle book or novel on the go. “Organise yourself so you don’t have to revise all through the night. It’s good to relax in the evening. There comes a point when you stop absorbing information.”

Cram with purpose

“I’m big on last-minute cramming,” says Hazell. “I’m quite aggressive in setting goals. If there are three days before an exam, with 24 lectures to revise, set daily targets so you can feel like you’re making progress and you’ll have covered everything.” And if you run out of time, “know when to cut your losses”, he says. “If there’s a small area of the syllabus that’s going to take a huge amount of time to revise, I ditch it.” At this point, “it’s about making sure you know what you know in more detail”.

Source: theguardian.com

www.qualifax.ie  

www.qualifax.ie   

www.qualifax.ie is Ireland’s National Learners’ Database and is the “one stop shop” for learners and the public.   Comprehensive, annually updated information is provided about further and higher education and training options in Ireland and further afield. Articles and links are also provided to assist students, job seekers, parents, guidance professionals and graduates to make informed choices for education, training and career pathways.

Qualifax is a service provided by Quality and Qualifications Ireland  (www.qqi.ie).

If you are looking for the widest range of education and training programmes in Ireland or considering further or higher education and training or unsure of which Leaving Certificate subjects to take, Qualifax aims to provide Guidance Professionals with extensive information about programmes and career choices.

www.qualifax.ie aims to support individuals of all ages and backgrounds to make informed and confident career choices and help answer the following questions:

  • Are you or someone you know not sure about what to study at university or college?
  • Have dropped out of college and are not sure of what to do next?
  • Have graduated from college or university and is unsure what direction to take next?
  • Are considering a career change or returning to education or training?

www.qualifax.ie is linked to the National Framework Qualification (NFQ) and is intended to put the learner at the centre of the education and training system in Ireland.  The NFQ is a system of ten levels. It incorporates awards made for all kinds of learning, from initial learning to Doctorate, wherever the learning is gained. For example, the Irish Junior Certificate is at NFQ Level 3, apprenticeship qualifications are at a number of NFQ Levels, the Honours Bachelor Degree is at NFQ Level 8 and the Doctoral Degree is at NFQ Level 10. The NFQ provides a structure (a framework) to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications, helping you to make informed decisions about qualification choices and to consider what options might be available for further studies. The NFQ also makes it easier to explain to others what qualifications one holds or are studying for. This becomes very important when considering further learning and applying for a job.

 

(Source: www.qualifax.ie)

It’s time to review your Study Plan…

We are told and from personal experience that January to May flies by. You may not think it now as the January days go by at a snail’s pace, but in two weeks’ time, Spring is upon, two weeks after it is St. Valentine’s Day, then St. Patrick’s Day, quickly followed by Easter (which is early this year – ?). All these calendar milestones make time go faster causing precious lost unplanned time periods never to be utilised again.

If you haven’t done it by now, you need to ‘up’ your study plan hours by re-visiting the plan you had done for September-December time period. You only have five months to go to what are (whether you like it or not) the most important examinations of your life so far.

You now need to be planning between 25-30 hours of homework / study each week (a week being seven days Monday to Sunday). The homework period will slowly reduce and transition into study time as the weeks go by and from Easter it will be all study.

Below is a timetable example that you may need to view and consider and introduce into your life for the next five months.

Do not regret not putting in the time and effort. If you don’t, you will be rewarded.

Enjoy the final few months of your secondary school education by seizing every day, indeed every hour…they will fly by…!

etc

Not sure what to be put on the CAO yet…?

 Coming to the end of another year and only six months or so to the Leaving Certificate examination. And you are still unsure as to what you want to do for the rest of your life. You have met the Career Guidance Teacher, you may have met a Professional career Guidance Counselor and you may well be closer to a decision, but still not quite sure, you are not definite. You would like to have clarity by year end, complete the CAO also by year end and start the New Year (the last most important six months of your life to date) with a 100% focus on study so as to achieve the highest points possible. And this you should strive to do.

In order to have this focus, how do you come to a decision about your ideal Career and ideal Third Level Course?

I presume you have met with your Career Guidance Teacher in your school and / or a Professional career Guidance Counselor outside of the school and have some ideas on where your aptitude, skills, talents competencies are? If not, you need to, this is priority and foundational i.e. gathering information, facts, knowledge about you so as to make an informed decision, mainly completed through Psychometric Career Assessments / Tests.

By the process of elimination initially, and then most interest, choose your top three career areas / fields. For each start studying the course contents, speak to people that you know who work in each field, research and read about each really getting into the vision of working in it, the environment, the people, stakeholders, customers, clients. Then you will find that one to two career fields will come to the fore. If these are still two and they are both very different, do more of the above until it comes one clear winner and complete your CAO accordingly.