Do you revise your difficult topics first? Don't!

Get a smart study plan made for you through a diagnostic survey (see for one such survey) or make your own estimate of concepts you are GOOD, MODERATE and LIMITED in.

To gain the maximum marks, move from EASY to DIFFICULT topics in each subject and not the other way around!

  • For concepts you are good in, practice for speed and accuracy and avoid careless mistakes. Avoid overconfidence at all times.
  • For concepts you are moderately good in, consolidate at the expected level.
  • For concepts you have a limited understanding of, go back a few steps and build understanding from below expected level. Going back to the basics might be quicker than struggling away at the expected level in these concepts.

What do you do now?
Are you focusing on your difficult topics first? Don't (unless you are in the top 20% of your class cohort).
Differentiate instead to get the most out of your revision process.

There is no doubt that a good strategy combined with a solid work plan can make you achieve your goals.

  • Differentiate: By differentiate in this context it is meant to separate between various study objectives.
    First you must know which concepts in which subjects you are good, moderate or limited at. A good diagnostic can provide you this information or you can gauge yourself.
  1. For concepts you are good at and that are easy for you, your study strategy would be to practice for speed and accuracy, to avoid careless mistakes.
  2. For concepts you are moderately good at, you need to develop a better understanding and consolidate at the class level for your are not fully sure of these concepts and make tactical errors in answering questions in these concepts.
  3. For concepts you have a limited understanding of, you may need to go back a few steps and build understanding from below class level, sometimes going back to the basics. Often there are a few small things that hold you back and going back to the basics might make it quicker to build understanding than struggling away at the class level in these concepts.
  • Such a differentiation will mean that you are most efficient in your revision process in which you will move forward from easy to moderate to difficult topics and not the other way around. This will also be more time efficient as you will quickly review a certain number of topics you are good at already and gain confidence in the process. You will not hit diminishing returns (that is, for each hour of effort, less and less outcome in terms of marks gained) until you will study the most difficult topics by which time you will have earned more marks than with a similar process in reverse.

  • Further differentiation would be defined by how much of an overall average you have built up with your easy and moderately difficult topics. Your strategy may vary somewhat from subject to subject. For example, in subjects that require more memorization, you will need to cover as many topics as possible, since all topics are more or less equally difficult and score well if you know your topics well. In this context, easy simply reflects topics you know well and difficult those topics you do not know well and have not studied and committed to memory. It would be helpful in these subjects that every day, you memorize and recall a little each day and give more importance to moderate and difficult topics.

  • Also, if you are good at three or four subjects and poor at one or two, your differentiation strategy might be to study those difficult subjects in order to improve your overall average. You cannot, however, afford to study the difficult subjects, if you can still improve your marks in the other, easier subjects.
  • Instead of revising one subject at a time, plan instead to do four revisions between now and the examinations:
  • First Revision: Easy topics in ALL subjects
  • Second Revision: Moderate topics in ALL subjects
  • Third Revision: Difficult topics in ALL subjects
  • Fourth Revision: Quick review of easy and moderate, and if time remains, the most difficult aspects of some subjects where you still feel you need to improve your average further.

Knowledge is as wings to a man's life.” Baha’u’llah