Diary of a 3rd Year
Eyebrow plucking, the UL Reading Room and Aled from Radio 1: KATIE MAIR imparts some revision wisdom.
I have been dogged by a profound sense of grump since the first day of the Easter holidays, when my DoS sent out to us a ‘handy revision tips’ Word Document.
Apparently the chasms in my brain where all the wisdom is meant to go cannot be filled with mini eggs. Nor episodes of Come Date With Me: Australia. Nor videos of babies really, really enjoying reggae.
Home was too distracting: it’s got a telly, a magnifying mirror and a designated ‘bread cupboard’; I kept finding excuses to eat pittas while plucking my eyebrows and watching Neighbours. In a moment of boldness, I took ownership of my misdirected energies and returned to Cambridge.
I decided that all I needed to do was read one thousand books in the holidays and dispatch the dissertation. Then I could go hard on Shakespeare’s Birthday, Big Willy Style, since that was also dissertation hand-in day, and college English Society Dinner day. After that I could knuckle down to go nuclear on Revision Proper for a month (four papers, four weeks, makes sense; and, yet again, I lament the fact that I should have done maths).
Despite the best laid plans and all that, however, my holiday work was a lil’ bit flabby and crap. An example of this is the fact that I wrote this from the Reading Room in the UL. I am really good at making bold claims, and I am very bad at sticking to the task in hand.
Another example of this is the fact that one morning I read 9 pages of a large-font book and texted Best Friend Jess From Home seventeen times, a conversation featuring punditry like, “he should wear speedos”, generous offers like, “I could do you a fake tan?” and Big Questions such as, “do you like foods where there is a mixture of sweet and savoury involved?”
In a bid to design a suitable Revision Plan Excel Spreadsheet (just kidding; I am IT illiterate!) I have looked to strategies of yore for inspiration:
Got through these by learning revision guides by rote. Worked really well, particularly for ‘GCSE Short Course IT: In a Week’ (for irony, see prev. sentence). Unfortunately, they don’t do CGP guides in Smashing Practical Criticism, nor Being Really Flair (the two things that might see me surpass a Desmond).
The aforementioned Jess From Home and I spent 8 out of every 10 AS History classes with Now magazine slotted into our lever arch files, writing pros and cons lists for identifying ‘The One’ just in case they happened to walk into The Rifle Volunteer on an evening when the Police Community Support Officers were not checking IDs. All I remember about revision is paying homage to Snoop Lion (née Dogg) by persistently writing ‘Reformation of tha chuuuch’ at the top of every page of my notes. Incidentally, Jess graduated with a 1st in a full-on degree in History last year.
Exceptionally good weather during ‘Study Leave’ (halcyon days) saw a lot of al fresco deckchair learning, which worked well enough and also meant I had acquired a good base tan for our post-A Level Ladettes holiday to Bulgaria. Sadly, weatherpeople suggest that this year it shall still be snowing in June so I expect to turn up to Small Examinations Hall very pallid and slimy, like one of those albino geckos that live in caves. Vitamin D deficiency never got anyone good marks. God, Zeus. Pull your finger out.
N/A (My abiding memory is that I had a ploughman’s lunch afterwards. Later I was told that having “infringed the rubric” I had been docked ten marks from my original score. Oops.)
2nd year exams:
Did quite a bit of work, only went a bit mad a few times (fell off my bike whilst stationary at a red light; accidentally wore my cardigan in the ‘inside out’ style for DoS meeting).
Incredibly, the best approach to exams appears to do all the stuff recommended by Radio 1’s Aled, counterintuitive though it this may be: continue to socialise (text your best mate every time someone fit enters the West Room); eat sensibly (see: Ploughman’s Anecdote); get plenty of fresh air (but make sure you wear your helmet). This is so obvious it is embarrassing. A bit like telling someone to use a pen to write with and put one foot in front of the other when you walk.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to think about exams is the same way one should consider the loss of one’s virginity.
In theory, it’s a big deal. In practice, it’s a big deal. Perhaps you have done some homework into the best way to approach it (Tip: aplomb. And a condom.) As soon as it’s over with, though, it might feel like a bit of an anti-climax. You might have tried your best, but have been let down by your nerves. You might have made a few clumsy mistakes. Your syntax might have been convoluted. You might now have RSI. As important as it felt in your head, realising the idea just left you a bit sweaty and tired, and regretting all the weeks/months/years spent worrying about what is essentially a test of basic jigsaw skills.
More important things soon dwarf that single event. For example, seeing Robert Webb from afar, or learning how to make microwave brownies. Or working out how to use Eduroam. This is one hundred times more useful than knowing three ways a polar bear is well adapted to its habitat in the arctic tundra.
Recently I have my mum has bought me three good pens and a multi-coloured scented highlighter. I have made a playlist called AWAKE, feat. both James Brown and The Saturdays. And the fount of all knowledge on all things profound and skateboard-related, Francis Boulle, is back on our screens. Finals, #i’mready (ish).