With level 5 formative assessments already handed in and the looming date of formative assessment for level 4, it seems that the reality of examinations is sinking in. Perhaps you are already drafting your revision plans, or maybe you are still considering how to approach the task of organizing revision time to make the most of it. In your plans, do not forget to take in to account the help you can get from family and friends. They are there not only to cheer you up, but they can also be an invaluable help to optimizing revision.
The most obvious is to make family/roommates help with other tasks not related to studies, like housework (or in my case, baby handling). Now, I am not telling you to shirk work! But it is possible to reach an agreement, maybe committing to work more in the household later on, once examinations are over and you have precious free time back. Another idea could be to change “shifts” and perform these chores when you know you are at your lowest levels of concentration. For example, I know that in the morning I tend to concentrate better and so the time spent studying will yield better results. In the afternoon, however, it is harder for me to concentrate, and so it is better if I devote it to other tasks that do not require as much “mind power”. Knowing yourself is one of the best tools to achieve success while studying. For me, it is liberating to know that a certain time of the day is not productive study-wise, as this allows me to focus on other things without the pangs of guilt. Hence, I can concentrate on my studies and on other aspects of my life (The Little One, friends, my house…), striking a balance between them. Of course, the help of my loved ones is paramount in this distribution, not only because they help me in allocating the necessary free time when I will be at my best, but because they can also warn me when I try to tackle too many things at once.
In addition, friends will provide you with quality free time. If you need to disconnect from revision and take a bit of fresh air, enlist their help to get you up from your desk. You could allot some free time in your schedule for having a cup of coffee or tea with friends, maybe giving them instructions not to bring up the topic of examinations or study and, instead, focusing on future plans for when examinations are over. This is vital because refreshing your ideas helps “rooting” them in the long run, that is, provided that you tackle revision over a sufficiently long span of time. While our brain is resting from study, information acquired is still being processed and allocated where we can retrieve it later on. I have friends over almost every Sunday and we watch a TV show, we comment upon it, have a good laugh, and maybe afterwards we play some board games. The result is that I feel extremely refreshed for the upcoming week. And when the week turns harder and harder as it passes, I just remind myself that friends will be coming over and it gives me the energy to go on.
Having an engaged listener will help you in developing your own way of conveying the ideas you are studying. If you prefer to have your family and your friends more involved in your study routine this is a perfect way to do so. When I was preparing for the examinations of Explorations in Literature and Approaches to Text, my husband and I would go out for a walk in the evening, and then I would explain to him the most striking ideas I came across during study time, or I would try to explain theories relevant to my studies. This helped me greatly. Since he does not have a background in literature or literary theory, he would ask me frequently what I meant when using certain terms. This made me reformulate my ideas over and over to made them understandable, until I was familiarized with them and I knew the basic topics inside out.
As you experience your own needs, you will see how family and friends fit in your revision schedule and you will come up with new and creative ways for them to help in the last stages of this course year. Experience is the best master to help us progressively improve our approach to studying. Be flexible and allow your loved ones to be by your side when you need them!
Ana is studying the BA English by distance learning in Luxembourg