Regardless of whether you’ve managed seven hours of revision a day or just the one, effective last-minute revision is the crucial final step on the journey to exam success; the home straight. It is important to keep your head, and not allow the sight of the fast-diminishing top half of the hourglass to cloud your focus.
These last few weeks and days should be committed to one thing: consolidation.
There are two formative aspects to this. The first is a matter of condensing the numbers. I would have said “facts” to cover the whole spectrum of subjects, but I realise that even in the humanities, facts often find their vocabulary in numbers – dates, statistics of war, societal trends, for example.
Over the course of your studies at school and subsequent revision, you will have ploughed through (literally) thousands of numbers, and numbers equate to marks. Your teachers will have told you, no doubt, that is important to try to empathise with the examiner in your answers, and make their job as easy as possible.
Numbers stand out on the page and draw the eye, distinctive in the sea of black biro around them, and act as visual hooks for the examiner to latch onto. This will allow them to award marks more quickly, to the benefit of both parties. Trekking through your notes, highlighting the crunch numbers, and transferring them onto a special crib sheet will facilitate your access to them, and you can fill your answers with them accordingly. When it comes to quotes and non-numerical information (eg. learning the causes of the Vietnam War, or the vested interests of the Cold War presidents) the same process should be followed, with concision as your buzzword. Again the examiner is looking for hooks, in this case the key words (eg. “containment,” “Gulf of Tonkin,” “IBMs.”) This method kills two birds with one stone, as going through your old notes and material will refresh your memory and, crucially, consolidate your knowledge. You can’t remember everything, so try to be as ruthless as possible in your assessment of what constitutes a “crunch” number, or fact.
The second aspect of consolidation is timed exam practice. Learning the facts is one thing; being able to deploy them appropriately under timed conditions is quite another. Completing past papers and then marking them will expose gaps in your knowledge of the facts, or “hooks,” and from there you can apply your focus where necessary.
Finally, to poach the immortal words of Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones: don’t panic! It will only slow you down.