Brain Train: Studying for Success

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview
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It's not escaped my notice that the last few grains of the sands of time are already slipping through the egg-timer of fate.

Humphrey Lyttelton

In the original edition of this book, my then co-author Chris Pope wrote the following paragraph concerning revision:

If you have followed the advice in the book so far, by the time the exams approach you will have understood everything and it will all be stuck firmly in your long-term memory. There will therefore be no need to do any revision at all, and you'll be ready to take the advice given by a certain study aid I once read-leave your books behind and spend a fortnight before the exam on a tropical island, relaxing and sampling the local delights.

He then quickly pointed out that this was a somewhat rosy picture, that most students' nerves and worries-including his own-render such a scenario pure science-fiction, and idiotic into the bargain!

And of course he was right in suggesting that for the vast majority of students the run-up to an exam is a time of great pressure and considerable anxiety. Even the best and most confident can feel alarm that time is fast running out and that like some renegade Horseman of the Apocalypse the day of reckoning is galloping towards them. In short, they wouldn't find Humphrey Lyttelton's above gag * remotely amusing: they may instead think he complacently and insensitively understated the case!

Well, I think there is a good deal to be said for the advice Chris read in that Study Aid. I wouldn't recommend the tropical jaunt literally, but its accent on relaxed pleasure and the refusal to get solemnly panicky has a lot going for it. In fact, I would make a fundamental principle of something I implied during Chapter 5:

Try to regard your revision-period as a 'working holiday'.

Yes, it is a pressured time; but more than at any other stage of your course you are in charge. There's nobody to tell you what to do or when

*Fiom the long-running-and wonderful-BBC Radio 4 show, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (November 1993).


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Brain Train: Studying for Success


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