Diary Of A Third Year: 'I haven't picked up a pen since I last did an exam'
Thursday 13 May 2010
The return of sunshine and summer brings sadness for third years. It means final exams are only a few weeks away and every waking hour is spent in the library. This wouldn't be so bad if Sheffield University's library didn't overlook a park filled with first and second years enjoying picnics and drinking cider. Revision is often interrupted by whoops of joy, or a Frisbee crashing into the library's windows.
The library changes during revision time. It's normally a catwalk, as students do their best to pull off study-chic – managing the fine line between looking attractive and intelligent, without appearing nerdy. During the exam period such aesthetic concerns go out the window. A combination of warm weather and a shoddy air conditioning system means that the ,students look like they're off to the beach, in shorts and flip-flops.
The library becomes a tip, with cups of coffee and chocolate wrappers scattered everywhere as students are simply too busy to put anything in a bin. One shelf, in particular, has books strewn all over the place: it's the shelf containing folders of previous exam papers. Rather than learning everything on the course, students simply devote a few hours to going through previous papers, looking for topics that always come up and questions that are likely to appear in their exam. You won't be asked about every topic, so why bother learning them all? It's far easier to simply play the percentages, revise a few topics well and hope for the best.
Cynics say that university is all about working hard, 12 hours a day, seven days a week – for four weeks a year. Those four weeks have begun. But university assessment is not all just exams. Barring Oxbridge, few universities judge their students solely on their final papers. The exams I will take at the end of May account for around 30 per cent of my degree. There's pressure – but not as much as there would be if I knew I was one duff paper away from a failed degree.
Even so, revision is a must. Timetables should be carefully drawn up and scrapped when your university decides to move your exams forward a week. My room is littered with spider diagrams, revision cards and notes of factoids that might wake the examiner from their marking-induced stupor.
Despite having sat exams every year for the best part of a decade, revision is still something of a mystery to me. At GCSE and A-Level there are revision guides to lead you. At university, you're on your own, with only your shoddy notes for guidance. Notes that made perfect sense when written down hurriedly in a lecture make much less sense three months later. Often, it's not even a case of "revision", but a case of learning for the first time.
The hardest part of revision is learning how to write again – not learning how to write lively, analytical prose, but how to physically form letters with a pen, rather than keyboard. Because I type my lecture notes, I have barely picked up a pen since I last did an exam, in spring 2009. Exams are easy – it's the writing that's hard.
Turkish President: 'Equality between men and women is against nature'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
Heroin to be prescribed to Canadian addicts by doctors
Audacious North Korean kidnap plot foiled at Paris airport as 'Asian men' attempted to bundle student onto plane
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby – through the stories of his accusers
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 5 Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...
£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: We are currently recruiting f...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher -Full Time - ...