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Puzzling over the British term revision as it applies to university study.

Is it safe to say that this is the same as a "study week"?

If there's a week of "revision" after 2 weeks of spring vacation, what do students normally do? Take the full 2 weeks of vacation before studying, or study the whole 3 weeks?

Also, how can finals week (examination period) last 3 weeks?

Posted by
5727 posts

Revision means private swotting up for exams, rather than structured lectures.

Students can do as they please with holiday/revision time, so long as they are prepared for the exam on the relevant day. Lecturers will be available for questions during revision time, but not during holidays, usually.

The exams take as long as they take. They are usually known as "finals", not "finals week".

Posted by
682 posts

Also i would add that you study all year as you are learning, then you revise independently before the exam. This is for any exam, from the age of 6 to 66. Very glad i don't have to do any revision any more!
Finals easily can be over 3 weeks, but you might have two exams the first week and one the third week. Revision will fill up the rest of the time!

Posted by
8889 posts

So Tom, what do they call revision where you come from?

Posted by
3709 posts

Definitely not "swotting up!" [] Usually classes are taught straight thru, there's a study day or 2 (sometimes it's a Saturday!) then a week of finals follows directly. So no revision period except for the study day(s).

University of Glasgow spring term:

10 weeks lecture
2 weeks vacation
1 week revision
3 weeks finals

Typical American University spring term:

7 weeks lecture ending with midterm exam
1 week vacation
7 weeks lecture sometimes ending in a second midterm exam
2 study days
1 week finals

The whole university experience is different, which wasn't a problem in the "old" days (up to 1990, maybe later) when Americans studying abroad brought their own faculty and did not register locally for classes. The "new" system of making them an exchange student throws the student into a new bureaucracy and new culture, especially a new grading culture, and not always successfully. Grading a whole term based on one final simply never happens in the US at the Bachelor's level. I honestly don't recommend these newfangled exchange programs. Try to find the old fashioned kind, find an American university in Europe, or stick to short terms like summer or January, not for credit. Or just give them some money to travel around on their own.

Not passing judgement, but American professors, who are constantly grading homework, projects/papers, midterms, and finals, all of which they are expected to independently create, and lecturing 2-4 extra weeks per term, work a lot harder than their European counterparts.

Posted by
21325 posts

The British "to revise" = the American "to review" (in the sense of test-preparation), as far as I can tell from usage on another internet board I frequent that has a lot of UK members. I don't remember which wording the Canadians use.

Posted by
11462 posts

Since we are talking studies......would one of our UK friends please explain "A Levels" and "O Levels."

Posted by
3709 posts

And of course O.W.L.’s....

The language usages differences can be entertaining (knackered, swotting, flaky) but when a familiar word is used in an entirely different way it’s terribly confusing (stove, chemist, revise). “Revising class notes” means editing them to me.

Posted by
239 posts

O Levels were the series of subject exams taken at 16, across the range of school subjects. They were replaced by GCSEs about 25 years ago. It stands for ordinary level. A Levels, advanced level, are taken at 18, they are more advanced as sort-of preparation for degree courses and children usually only take 3 or 4, as opposed to up to 10 or 12 O Levels. They're called Highers in Scotland

Posted by
8868 posts

England and America are two countries separated by the same language. George Bernard Shaw

The 'language' may be the same, but the 'vocabulary' is distinctly divergent in many instances.

Posted by
4745 posts

So Tom, what do they call revision where you come from?

Obviously, I am not Tom, but at my university the time spent preparing for exams was called ”reading period”.

I studied English a long time ago at a good British university but also did an exchange at an Ivy League university.

I would note two particular differences:

The British university encouraged depth, with very narrow very focused study; the US one encouraged width with a wide range of subjects studied but at less depth.

In Britain it felt like professors were mostly there to prod us along to finding things out for ourselves whereas in the US we were much more taught.

Oh yeah, one more thing: roughly 75% of my degree in Britain depended on my performance in a series of finals over a three-week period (there was also a dissertation and an exam taken in the second year). Hence the importance of revision.

Whereas in the US we seem to be graded as we went along.

I think the continuous assessment model is now much more common in Britain (I was at university in the 80s).

Posted by
3709 posts

Laura: I'd forgotten, the first university I went to did indeed have a "reading period" of more than a few days, but not more than a week.

Jane: Continuous assessment is a good term, at the Bachelor's level and sometimes beyond, that is the model.

Posted by
11462 posts

I atteneded two universities in the U.S. including one Ivy. It seems the schedules in both were the same:

--end of classes
--one night of partying
--a few days and nights of cramming
--final exams with cramming in between
--more partying

Coffee consumption during cramming and exams would increase ten fold. One of the schools even made free coffee available 24 hours/day in the food halls and snack bars. But this was a long time ago when Starbuck was only a character in Moby Dick.