Back To Work

(plays Rocky theme tune)

As a result of the large amount of work I have done this weekend, that I am about to discuss, I apologise in advance if I make occasional spelling or grammatical slip-ups; normally I check for those sorts of things, but today I’m too tired, so they’re.

I’ve said before that I like working, as it gives me a sense of achievement, and that the day has been productive, not just in the sense of getting homework done, but in terms of additional work, both for school and for the Hell of it; if anything this extra stuff furthers the feelings of achievement, as I’ve actively rejected looking at the hilarious Google auto-fill results for ‘Why does North Korea’, in favour of doing something mentally challenging, and beneficial.

I spent a lot of last term, from September to Christmas, preparing for University interviews, by reading up on course specification and a few essays from my interviewers, and getting ahead in A2 work by killing myself to complete everything two weeks before it was due in. As a result, I was burned out by the end of last term (approximately the day after my last interview, conveniently), and spent the majority of the Christmas holidays watching TV and playing Football Manager.

However, I feel ready to work myself to death again; I’m aware that the Christmas crashing period extended a bit into this school term, as I didn’t read anything for a month after I finished Middlemarch at the start of December, and I was slipping a bit in terms of test scores and my general confidence with my academic life. I was hardly failing, but it was a very First World Problems-style few weeks, as I gasped in horror as my average mark slipped from an A to a high B.

And this weekend, I got back into it; motivated partly by two tests next week, I’ve just finished 30 pages of notes for my Geography syllabus, for no other reason than ‘getting work done’. I’m aware that these notes may actually come back to haunt me by June, as I’ve realised that the process of making revision notes, not just reading them, helps me remember them the best; if anything, I’ve made these notes too damn early.

So I’ll just make new ones come Summer.

I feel that exam success is based on two factors: preparedness, and performance in the exam itself: the former is maximised by revising the content, and the latter by doing practice timed essays and questions. Therefore, I think that your final grade will be determined to a great extent by the preparation you do in advance: even ‘exam performance’ can be practised beforehand.

Therefore as far as I’m concerned, my grades, which will get me into University, will be decided upon in the next four months of revision, which is why I take revision so damn seriously: make fun of my dysfunctional pancreas all you want, but don’t frak with my study notes.

I also think that the feeling of preparedness itself is important in succeeding in exams: a key way I maximise ‘exam performance’ is by having an underlying confidence that I will do well in that exam; this confidence means that every debatable point I make in an essay leads to me thinking ‘This one is just good enough’, rather than thinking that it’s just too far. This means I avoid having the knock-on effect of a series of points, all of which I feel are not quite good enough, which can bugger an entire essay.

As a result, I ensure I am totally confident, by doing far too much work: the logic is that the more times I copy out a set of revision notes, the more I’ll learn, so the more relaxed I’ll be in the exam. Also, having this system of re-doing old work if I cover the entire syllabus means I can never become arrogant; I will never reach a point where all the work is ‘done’ and I can relax, putting total faith in past work, because for me, the nature of this revision is about repetition.

But who knows how well Summer will actually go? In year 10, I had total faith in myself, and ended up re-sitting all of my exams that year; in year 12, I thought I’d struggle to get one A, and I got four. All I can do is give myself peace of mind that I did as well as I could, by working now, peace of mind that will relax me during the exams themselves, and during the two-month wait, to see if I really am good enough to get into the Uni I want to.

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4 thoughts on “Back To Work

  1. I totally agree. Start early, review, revise, and self-quiz. These are the pillars of my studying. They give me confidence and help me prepare. I later learned when I was trained to teach teach learning/study skills that this is exactly what one is “supposed” to do.

    1. The ‘supposed’ thing doesn’t always work though – this method works for me, but my friends have had borderline mental breakdowns from following it intensively.

      Perhaps this method works for rote-learning a bunch of facts for an exam, but is less useful in actually understanding and thinking about ideas in a more meaningful sense?

      1. Well, to me, it isn’t learning if I don’t understand it. That first go through (sometimes second) is when I make sure I understand it – whatever it may be. Then, if I need to memorize, I review. If I need to write, I revise and revise and revise and revise. If I need to practice (math, math-related things), I practice and practice and practice until I can think my way through all the problems I’m presented with.

        1. If you’re doing an exam based entirely on case study info though, revision often boils down to learning the finite examples we have, and winging the actual judgement bits during the exam.

          This is why I’m working now, so I have time to rote-learn examples, and actual understanding points.

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