How to revise (or not)

Tab Tries actually doing some work?

‘Vacation is when you vacate Cambridge – it is not a holiday.

Yes, this is one of the first insights given to us by the Master of the college upon our induction into this fine institution. Right from the beginning it was clear that hard work made up Cambridge as much as the pretty buildings and ancient courts. Since abandoning the Master’s other advice about how those who are organised succeed best at Cambridge, it’s time to face the other head on, especially with the spectre of exams looming.

Whilst it is tempting to spend all of the Easter vacation lounging at home and guzzling Easter eggs, soon a feeling of nausea and unease creeps up that is not entirely due to the overindulgence. Now is the time to sift through the mountains of lecture notes not yet filed, or if you’re a scientist, as outrageous as this suggestion sounds, perhaps time to open a book?

(And in what is potentially a Tab first, this article is attempting to be both helpful and somewhat serious.)

In this age of technology addiction, the biggest impediment to actually getting shit done is Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, emails and all the other paraphernalia on our phones. Unfortunately we all know how easy it is to get sucked into just idly scrolling down news feeds in a semi-conscious haze until you suddenly realise that a 5 minute check has turned into a 50 minute binge. If you want to be brash, you could delete all the distractions, but more reasonably you could instead use an app like Tide, that has 25 minute focus periods where you can’t use your phone. (Disclaimer: this is not a paid advertisement.)

Fighting the 21st Century addiction half an hour at a time

Perhaps your motivational levels are low, and two terms at Cambridge has left you so dead inside that not even the fear of exams can spur you on. If that is the case, you can find a friend to have study sessions together to motivate each other, and even if that doesn’t work, at least you have a fellow sufferer to whine to about exams, or you can make¬†back up plans together, be that working at McDonald’s, taking a gap yah or robbing a bank.

Working out the odds of passing exams to make £9,000 a worthy investment

Having a change of scenery can do wonders for productivity. If being at home means that you can’t resist the temptation to take a nap, forget Oscar Wilde’s quip about how the only way to rid yourself of a temptation is to yield to it – instead you could remove yourself from the scene of temptation. If you still have any money left that was not wasted on ritual intoxication during term time, you could go to a coffee shop. Or the other option is the local library, which is free, and also has the perk of free wifi.

Not at all staged to look productive

Music is often an aid used by people to power through a study session. This is very much a personal matter though, subject to individual tastes. For some, they make a set study playlist, or use a classical music playlist on YouTube (there are loads that are aimed at studying) or just play background white noise. Each to their own, and whatever floats your boat. I’ve heard that some people study to Britney…

Since nobody wants to, needs to, or will ever be able to study continuously with no breaks, arrange to have days off to meet friends and live the rest of your life that is not consumed by your degree, if such a thing still exists. Even taking small breaks works; I often reward myself with watching TV shows in between study sessions. Having something to look forwards to makes revision all the more bearable.

So much to do, so little time

If all of the above fails and you cannot bring yourself to do any revision over the holidays, you always have that last resort. Necessity is reportedly (and very much truthfully) the mother of invention/getting anything done. With the imminence of exams, it’s surprising how productive you can be. So if at the end of the holidays you’re still left with that same mountain of work, stock up on caffeine and cram away.

Thus I wish you good luck, fellow comrades in arms struggling against Tripos stress/fear/anxiety/exams. And may the odds be ever in your favour.

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