Student perspectives: 5 last minute revision top tips from a health sciences student

Photo of Emma, the author of this blog post

Student Advocate Emma Lau (Veterinary Sciences) shares some tips and techniques for preparing for upcoming assessments.

With summer exams approaching, we inevitably start gearing up in preparation for our intense revision in the upcoming revision week! Here I want to share the top 5 tips I have from studying for university exams in the past four years. 

A bit about myself: I am a fourth-year student studying veterinary science. As many of you may know, it is quite a content-heavy subject. The following tips may not be as applicable to some of you doing a more applicable subject, such as Mathematics and computer science, or those doing essay subjects, such as History and Psychology. However, I believe there are some transferable skills for revising for exams. 

1. Stay flexible to prevent procrastination

This is one of the transferable revision skills regardless of the subject you do. It may sound simple, but if a topic is tedious or not your interest or focus, we may want to procrastinate.   

Question: How can I prevent procrastination?  

Some people plan their revision schedule a few weeks prior to revision week or even a month before their exam date. I have tried that in previous years. Unfortunately, this method did not work as well for me. My tip will be to stay flexible on the topics to revise. Setting a goal to go through a set number of topics instead of a defined topic works better for me. Mixing around different topics will keep our motivation, maximising our revision efficiency. 

2. Use modified Cornell note-taking method  

As you may have heard, the Cornell note taking method is known to be an effective way of note taking. I modified this method when I revisited my initial notes to create a summary revision table. 

First, I put the relevant Intended Learning Outcome (ILO) on the top of the page. I  then organise my notes into two columns – one with questions/ hints and another column with answers. For content that can be organised into a table, I also put a table underneath the ILO.

Here’s an example of my own adapted Cornell-style notes

3. Mind mapping  

Mind maps are a great way to perform active recall of taught materials! There are several different applications that I have tried and found useful. Click on each one to view an example of how I use them in practice:

  1. Obsidian
  2. Mindmup
  3. Miro
  4. Padlet

They all have different pros and cons, so have a look at some of my examples to see which app you prefer. If you are looking for collaboration with your friends, only Miro and Padlet will have the function. 

4. Use AI for summarisation and incorporate the “Read Aloud” function

Seeing the long list of ILOs can be daunting, making it difficult to find a starting point to condense your notes. I recommend inputting the ILOs into a large language model (LLM), such as Claude or ChatGPT, followed by your notes and ask it to summarize your notes for you. This will provide you with a quick overview of the specific topic.

In addition to that, I would recommend using the “Read Aloud” function to listen to the summarised content. The multisensory learning approach has proven to be a powerful tool to enhance information comprehension and retention. I must admit that I remember way more content in a shorter time frame than I would have otherwise been able to. Therefore, it is definitely worth considering during your last couple of weeks for revision.

Here I use Claude to generate summaries of specific topics based entirely on my own written notes.

However, it is worth noting that the university has a strict copyright policy regarding teaching materials, and you musn’t upload lecture slides or materials created by your lecturer or other people. Therefore, when putting notes onto AI tools, it must be from our own paraphrased notes. In addition, if we do not want the chat to be remembered or used as further AI training data, logging into Microsoft Copilot would be a better alternative than ChatGPT and Claude. The only limitation with Microsoft Copilot is that you are limited to pasting 4000 characters per message.

For more guidance and support on using AI tools for your studies check out the Study Skills team’s Using AI at University online resource.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Lastly, I must emphasise the importance of practice. For subjects with past papers access I recommend doing as many of those as you can. For health science subjects that do not have access to past papers, Peerwise and your own flashcards will be good alternatives. Spaced repetition (regularly returning and reviewing) is key to remembering factual content, while understanding past papers will help set more realistic expectations on the exam format. These allow you to be more confident and calmer on exam dates.

That’s my five top tips for when revising during the revision week. If you want to try out any of the mentioned tools above and learning about details on how to access it, you can find more information on this page. Hope you have found this blog useful, and best of luck with your exams!

Do you have any revision tips of your own? Share them in comments below!

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