In the library reading for this week’s essay: Culture & Anarchy in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Feeling tired today but I’m powering through so I can get ahead & have a bit more free time later this week! Girton library is also an amazing place to study, so beaut ~
I have been meaning to do this post for an awfully long time, and have had numerous messages asking me about how I revise, so it is about time I got down to it. I think the main reason why I haven’t done this post until now is because I myself have actually also been figuring out exactly how to revise. Last year, I feel that I didn’t really nail a set revision technique, and although I did fine with my prelims, I didn’t feel like I was prepared at all, and vowed to find a revision technique to make me feel satisfied this year.
I’ve found that using different methods for different papers is currently working for me, so I will try to give you an overview of what I am currently doing. I’m not saying that these methods are going to be 100% successful for myself or for anyone else, but if you are interested in what I am doing right now, then read on.
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I’m currently splitting 3 of my 4 papers into a revision technique with 3 stages: STAGE 1: collating quotes on post-it notes, collating notes from previous lectures, essays and supervisions; defining topics or ‘themes’ to gather them into. STAGE 2: creating a series of colourful mind-maps on these topics, using my quotes on post-it notes to stick on the paper in relevant places/move about the page. On the paper, I will arrange my notes and thoughts into logical trains of thought which flow into a mini ‘argument’ that includes these quotes. I will then do the same kind of mindmaps on past paper questions, creating mini essay plans that include my portable quotes. STAGE 3: PAST PAPER TIMED ESSAYS. There’s no real explanation needed here, only that I will probably first allow myself to look at my texts/notes during a timed essay, before then removing them from my sight/grasp at the final hurdle. I hope these stages make sense to people, and I will try to post pictures on here as I go. As you can see from the top image, I am currently only at Stage 1, but I will move to Stage 2 next week.
In my Medieval Paper, we have to complete translations, so, additional to the above method, I have written out the passages we need to work on for translation (see the image with my two copies of ‘Sir Gawain’). Here, I have found that translating gradually with the help of both the Middle English version & the translated version has helped. I haven’t looked at the translated version yet, and have instead written out the Middle English in black pen, before going over the text, referring to the Middle English glossary, picking out any words I found difficult individually before writing them in light green alongside the Middle English. I will next go over the translated version I own, and come to a conclusive translation in dark green at the bottom of each page.
For my fourth and final paper, Practical Criticism, I have found that the use of flashcards is probably the most helpful for all the critical terms that we need to know (see third image). After creating a set of flashcards and learning the terms, I will go through my past notes on different critical/theoretical schools of thought, creating more colourful mindmaps on each set topic. And then again, its PAST PAPER time.
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That’s it! I hope it makes sense. I am awful at knowing how to revise, possibly the worst person to ask if I’m honest, as nobody really tells you how to revise at university, which can mean that you waste time flailing around (that’s what I did last year). So now, I’ve just thought of various ways to change-up my revision technique and make it really dynamic. We’ll see if it works in the long-run, but it is working at the minute!
This term, there are also revision lectures, classes and supervisions on in the English department; I have attended these so far, and I have felt that they have really helped me to identify what I need to get done in my own revision time, so I will definitely carry on attending. Ultimately, so far this term, I have been keeping myself busy with revision, and I am really starting to feel like I am making progress. I’m actually quite enjoying it, so hopefully this feeling will last.
18 Sept 16 — messy messy non-desk desk. 2 weeks and I’ll be back in Cambridge after a stupid number of months off for summer. !!! Currently reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and couldn’t recommend it more; I’m underlining and annotating like a possessed Lit student.
This term, my weekly supervisions are on a Friday at 1pm. This means that my week revolves around one hour (or usually two) of intense one-on-one contact time with my supervisor. After a supervision my brain always hurts so much, and I usually feel mentally drained but also weirdly energetic (?). I usually go to the gym straight after supervisions to release energy, but I’ve also found that the time following a supervision is great for organising the week to come.
I had a brand new Moleskine delivered today (yay!), so I spent time drawing out a timetable for next week & I’m gradually filling it in. My week may seem quite empty at the moment, but I usually fill each day in as I go through the week, informed with an overall view of what I need to get done by the end of the week. It may seem unorganised to do this, but my degree is quite self-motivated with hardly any contact time or relevant lectures, so organising my days as I go along works for me. Also: some things here happen very last minute, and I wouldn’t like to tightly pack my schedule early on in the week only to have to change it later. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and would hate to scribble stuff out.
But I can tell you something: most of that week from 8am-9pm will be filled in with red: WORK TIME. Thank goodness I love my degree.