Location, location, location: My revision ‘sweet-spots’

Kate Ellison 19 May 2015

As the cruel reality of exam term dawns on the Cambridge student, we’ve all had to reflect on the realities of our revision habits. Principal among these of course, is the question of location. I confess, before my IB finals, I didn’t go to the library. As far as I was concerned, time spent journeying to and from the library was time wasted. Nevertheless, since coming to Cambridge my attitude has decisively shifted.

It is to my eternal regret that only in the Easter term did I discover the wonder that is the University Library. I find my own little corner, my own nook. I’ll climb to the highest floor, walk along as far as I can. There, all alone. Nothing but the words of authors to keep me company. This is me at my most productive.

Of course the UL is also intimidating; its menacing tower dominates the Cambridge skyline. Thankfully, one of the many ways in which the average Cambridge student can consider themselves spoilt is in the immense variety of places we can choose to study.

If I may use a food analogy (inevitable I suppose when one writes an article on an empty stomach) for me the more places, the more flavours. Variety is my creed. Libraries are my ‘fail-safe.’ However, during Easter term the mass exodus of students to the libraries means all their spaces fill up as rapidly as our coffee cups. At Caius, there are those truly dedicated students, who, in pursuit of their ideal revision location, get to the library for its opening time at 7am. But as far as I’m concerned the only place I want to be in at 7am is my bed.

Indeed, I’m not averse to staying in my room. It all depends how I feel when I wake up in the morning. Naturally sometimes I wake up and decide I’m staying put. I’m up, I’m dressed (yes, of course pyjamas count) and ready to go. It has become a habit during my dreaded essay writing day, to hole myself up in my room all day. For me, at least, it works.

For some, the distractions of the bedroom are too much to handle. Surrounded by your possessions and of course your food (both the brain and waistline suffer during Easter term, I’ve learnt.) But the most torturous of all…the bed. For some the thought of working in such close proximity to their bed is too overwhelming to bear. For others, it provides quick and easy access to said beds (especially useful if the urge for a quick power-nap arises.)

Many a time have I typed that final word, shut down the laptop, slid over to my bed on my conveniently agile wheeled desk chair and just flopped. Didn’t even have to stand up. Of course, personally I could never always work in my room, mostly due to the fear that with the lethal combination of accessible food and wheeled desk chair, I’ll graduate looking like one of the chair-bound people in Wall-E. Revising in bed, though. That never works. If you remember revising well in bed, it was probably a dream you had when you inevitably fell asleep there. Personally, I could never bring myself to poison the sacredness of one of the few places where my brain isn’t self-imprisoned in the trenches of revision.

So location matters. Personally, each location requires a different mind-set of which mine changes on a daily basis. Wherever I revise though, I like to make the space my own, to immerse myself there until I emerge, hopefully with a sense of fulfilment and more likely with a desire for food and/or sleep.