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Revision Methods: Using Forums

By: Kate Simpson BA, MA - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When it comes to revision, forums can be a useful tool. Engaging and enjoyable, they can prove to be treasure troves of useful information. However, this revision method also comes with its fair share of pitfalls. The reliability of information can be questionable and the informal style of such websites can be distracting. Prepare yourself by learning in advance about the advantages and disadvantages of these 21st Century online resources.

The Advantages

Many forums are frequented by students just like you, studying the same courses at the same level. This can be a real advantage, allowing you to discuss issues with others outside of the classroom environment. You might also learn new information and be introduced to new approaches, as such forums put you in contact with students from other schools who might have been taught in a slightly different way. You will be able to ask direct questions of a whole group or to an individual. What’s more, many individuals who post on such websites give their time generously, creating detailed and thoughtful responses for those with queries. You might also find that those who have completed a certain exam in the past frequent a forum, offering advice to new students.

Some students kindly choose to share their revision notes with others on forums. For example, they might have worked through a novel, finding quotes on a certain theme. In this way, you are able to cut down on research time. Information is directly handed to you. You are able to pick and choose as you wish, ignoring or skimming over posts that are not relevant to your revision.

A forum is, to all intents and purposes, an online discussion room. With this in mind, such environments can be the perfect places to engage in discussion and debate. You might find another forum user who strongly agrees or disagrees with you on a certain issue relating to the subject you are both revising and an educational and rewarding debate can ensue.

The Disadvantages

Whilst it can be exciting to see that other students are offering up their revision notes for others to use, this can be dangerous. Be careful not to fall into the trap of neglecting to conduct your own research and personal revision. Working through information in an individual and active manner is the best way to process and remember it. Simply copying and pasting the ideas of others will never secure success.

Furthermore, bear in mind that such websites are not always reliable. The accuracy of information posted cannot be guaranteed and it may be that certain forum members’ input is not of as high a quality as that offered by others. If you are unsure about the accuracy of a certain post, try to check up on it yourself. If in doubt, don’t use information that you are unsure about.

The informality of forums can prove distracting. Don’t be tempted to enter into conversations that are off-topic or to stray to unrelated websites. Set yourself a time limit and, every so often, check that you are still focused on the task at hand.

Whilst forums can be full of useful information regarding the subject matter of an exam, many forum members tend to discuss exam stress and exam marks too. Beware of such conversations. If you begin to find yourself comparing yourself to others or worrying too much about the exam itself, steer clear of the Internet.

Remember that, on the web, not everyone is genuine. Read up on staying safe online and never give out any personal details about yourself. If you have any worries at all, speak to an adult as soon as possible.

Embracing new technology and information sources can add energy, excitement and variety to your revision sessions. However, be sure to maintain a critical mindset when working with study forums. Try not to rely upon them. Instead, ration your time and go to them briefly for discussion, inspiration, and a general over view of a topic. Importantly, remember not to neglect the student’s faithful friend – the traditional book.

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I've been using forums loads lately to help me study for my GCSEs, I think they're great. When I've asked questions the answers have been really good and well explained and I've also been able to help other students too! Just be careful with some of the answers given and make sure that you check them out on the net before you use them in your work.
Jenna - 17-May-12 @ 10:16 AM
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