Just stop for a moment and look around you. We have swamped ourselves with technology. Now try and ascertain the most flawless engineering creation in your vicinity. Is it the light bulb, expelling all darkness with one switch, capable of even feeding a plant when daylight leaves? Or is it your cell phone; that ever present handy little device allowing you to scribble digitally, whenever, wherever and to whomever?
Man has come a long way in the speculated 340,000 years of his existence and technology has undoubtedly enabled us to meet many milestones. Yet isn’t it astounding to realise that the most spellbinding engineering marvel is the idiosyncratic combination of atoms that compose your own body? The world’s most perfect pump is at this very moment sitting right in your chest. With its unbelievable creation and incessant beating, the heart sends all your blood around your body some 1,000 times during the course of a single day. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. No light bulb or electronic gadget could sustain such workload without error. (Voila, I remember the figures from my Clinical Engineering & Medical Physics revision today.) With inventions such as pacemakers, heart stents and defibrillators, Biomedical Engineering allows our miraculous little fist-sized pump to stay invincible in the face of disease. While learning about pacemaker implantation, I came across this video on YouTube. I will accept that I teared up a little towards the end of the video. Motivation levels are high indeed!
On the subject of revision, I have about 2 weeks left till my finals begin. I have been burning the midnight oil in the library (purely idiomatic, thanks to modern technology I am not actually causing a fire and safety hazard in the library). After 17 years of being a student, one might expect to have found the perfect revision strategy but it’s probably a journey of a lifetime if not a constant battlefield. Nonetheless, there are a few things that definitely work for me and I hope they are of help to you!
1. Keep a revision timetable!
You have already heard this way too many times before, you’ve tried it and it usually flops (said every student ever). For me, revision timetables are more about telling me how much I still have left to revise rather than how I should revise. I always make two time timetables, a realistic one that I have to follow no matter what and another very ambitious one, which is not easy to keep up with but definitely does keep me on my toes (mind games). Just update your revision schedule from time to time but don’t beat yourself up over not being able to do the 100 lecture slides you promised yourself in the schedule. Quality not quantity, remember!
2. Create the study atmosphere that works for you
No social media websites opened on your computer and your phone on silent mode is a great a place to start. Make sure you are sitting in a good posture (at home I usually succumb to the comfort of my bed) and that you have healthy snacks and water to keep you energised! I find study music helpful to keep me calm and focused while I am doing my calculations. Also cutting down on those 2 hours of sleep might just reduce your efficiency through the whole day! American companies are losing $63.2 billion a year due to sleep deprivation, according to a 2013 study from Harvard Medical School. Sleep is as important as water and food, don’t fight your body clock!
3. Allow yourself breaks!
Here is one shocking fact. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average transient attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. Not very encouraging is it? Well the good news is that that most healthy teenagers and adults are able to sustain attention on one thing for about 20 minutes at a time, and they can choose repeatedly to re-focus on the same thing. This ability to renew attention permits people to “pay attention” to things that last for more than a few minutes, such as long movies. The NHS says that taking regular short breaks while you’re working may help. A break every 45 to 60 minutes is about right. During your breaks reward yourself with some family time or take a little power nap. Work hard; play not-quite-as-hard is the motto here.
4. Know your goal and keep reminding yourself of it!
I am a big advocate of 8 hours of sleep, yet I do have to pull an all nighter on the odd occasion. Watching one of my favourite TED talks before I begin always helps me focus on the bigger picture. The tedious mathematical calculations you might be struggling with probably have very important applications in the practical work!
5. Make revision notes!
And keep making them again and again. I have notes from my lectures, elaborate revision, and summary notes, right up to the one sheet filled with important formulae that I will be reviewing just before the exam. Apparently the most successful candidates often make as many as three sets of the same notes in a run up to the exams which help them to memorise the required information. Using coloured pens and highlighters helps draw attention to important pointers!
6. Have faith in yourself!
Confidence is the key! You have come so far, you are working hard, and you will be just fine! If not, there are plenty of people who did well in life without 100 per cent in every single exam. Just stay positive and take that unnecessary pressure off yourself. Think about the glorious summer that awaits you and allow yourself to be happy through the revision period!
Good luck, now get back to work! I will too!