Here we go again. It’s the summer term. And we know what that means.
Up and down the land students are in the pub, feeling guilty that they should be in the library, or back in their student digs – revising like crazy for their summer exams. OK. Maybe that’s a tad unfair. Some will be in the pub, trying to avoid the revision, but most will be working their socks off to make sure they can reliably recount at least 3 years worth of undergraduate learnings.
We’re sure you’ll have ‘how to revise effectively’ advice coming out of your ears from just about every student channel available. And you know us – we like to focus on positives – so we’ll focus on some things you can do in your revision downtime, to compliment the uptime…
It’s not rocket science. You’re supposed to take breaks during revising. But lots of people don’t – because they feel it is wasting time that they could be cramming more. But those pauses are essential for allowing your brain to absorb the information that it has just taken in and for it to take a break to recover. Along with a decent amount of sleep, your revision breaks are just as important as the cramming when time you’ve got your head in a book or glued to the screen of your tablet. Here’s what you might do during those breaks.
If you run regularly, you’ll know just how good it is for the brain. Firstly, it increases oxygenation and blood flow, so on the first part of your run will properly help your grey matter file away all those bits of information. You might even find yourself in a trance like state whilst that happens. Choose the distance you want to run depending on your fitness. If you’re new to running take it easy – build up each time and don’t bite off more than you can chew. 5k is a reasonable starting distance – and you might even try it out at an organised Parkrun on a weekend morning.
If you have some experience, then aim to go offload during middle to second half of your run. You want to get your brain into a mode of 100% concentration, and running off road does this well – as you’ll be constantly scanning the ground for where to put your feet – as well as adjusting your body and balance to the undulating terrain.
Eating well is important for brain function and whilst the extra large pizzas that you ordered for the past three nights running might have had anchovies on, we’re not sure that the small salty fish constitute genuine brain food. Preparing and cooking a good diet as part of your downtime routine is a double whammy of a good idea. First off, you can choose and plan meals that actually help brain function (the BBC have a decent top 10), secondly you’ll be getting your essential revision break whilst you prepare it. The ultimate bonus is that – as you’re choosing to boost your brain function – it comes without the guilt trip that you should really be revising, not taking a break.
Music is a wonderful thing. You could take a break and bung on some tunes – but if it’s on your phone, iPod or MP3 player – beware the temptation of the internet. You’re supposed to be giving your brain a rest, not stimulating it.
Listening to music is only half as good as playing it though. It’s often said that musical performance is one of the few things that requires 100% brain power, with no room for any other thoughts. If you’re in halls maybe you could start an impromptu student choir – call them the Revision Breakers. Assemble twice a day for 20 minutes and sing your hearts out. You might choose to learn guitar or Piano, or if you already play just pick some new songs to get your teeth into.
TVs, Tablets and PC screens aren’t great for revision downtime – with the latter two providing a very quick route to the distractions of email, messaging and the internet. The big screen on the other hand, at your local cinema – is a safer bet. You have to turn your phone off for a start. Pick a decent flick and it’s an all absorbing experience that you’ll be engrossed in. But it is along break – so save this one up for an end of the week treat. And don’t go and see a late night show (when you should be sleeping) or something scary that will keep you awake.
We hope that our tips are helpful, and that you get stuck in to your revision in a way that means your exams are a breeze.