Revising for exams!

Over dinner party talk about my work directing a university writing center, a friend remarked that while reading to her kids a British edition of Harry Potter, she came across passages where revise meant study, as in Harry and Ron revised all night for the potions exam.

She asked whether I was familiar with that usage. I wasn’t.

From Tom Deans’ piece in InsideHigherEd on formal writing courses and what revision means in those contexts.

Two points that struck me:

(a) Indian usage is more closer to British: we did “revise” before exams;

(b) It is wrong to assume, however, that revise meant study; revision only meant revision. Again and again, at home, when we were kids, we were told by our parents and grandparents that you should study all through the year, stop learning new material in the last one month or so, and only revise what you have studied during that period. I found that to be a good strategy as a student.

When I am teaching courses now, I notice that the frequent quizes, mid-terms and final semester exams that we conduct means too little material and too many exams; that means, students, more often than not are studying when they should be revising. In the course that I offered last semester, I did try not to include portions that are taught one week prior to the quiz/exam for the quiz/exam — though, I do not know if it was of any use.


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