Revision tips

The Mix can't guarantee grade A exam results, but we can give you straightforward revision advice.

Girl asleep with revision notes

Productive.

What’s the best way to revise?

  • Different students swear by different approaches, but in every case your best bet is to set out a revision plan
  • It’s never too early to suss out how much work you have to cover. Establish how much time you have available between now and the exams, and then draw up a realistic timetable
  • In working out how much time you should devote to each subject, try to concentrate on your weaknesses without losing sight of your strong points

So I’ve set a revision plan, what next?

  • Stick to it! That way you can keep track of how much work you’ve done and what you have left to cover
  • Choose a place in the house to revise where you won’t be distracted
  • Also make your family aware of the fact that you need some peace and quiet during this time, so they know not to disturb you
  • Switch revision between subjects to avoid becoming bored of a single topic
  • Look for fresh sources of info other than class notes. The internet, for example, offers some innovative learning resources
  • Set yourself up with a ‘reward’ after every revision session. Nothing extravagant, just a small treat to help you get back to your books
  • The most effective way to approach a revision session is to focus on understanding rather than memorising
  • Follow our advice and stay motivated

How do I cope when the exams get really close?

  • Avoid last-minute revision the night before
  • Instead, complete your revision plan early, prepare yourself, then relax for the rest of the day
  • During this time, don’t focus on passing or failing. If you’ve kept to your revision plan, and you’re calm, the answers will come naturally
  • Just before the exam itself, don’t go ‘testing’ yourself on specific questions, and when you finally sit down avoid rushing into things. Read the whole paper
  • Fingers-crossed you’ll pass. But failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure in life. Remember you can do retakes or appeal, if your results aren’t what you were expecting

What are the biggest problems with revising?

  • Putting off revision, finding excuses to do other things or leaving all the work until the last minute. The fact is the more you delay, the more likely you are to get into a stew and panic
  • Unless you stick to a sensible revision timetable, there’ll always be a tendency to think negatively. In this situation, many believe they’re somehow unable to revise or are destined never to get the results they want
  • Some people are also terrified of disappointing their parents. Often this is a self-imposed pressure, while others feel their folks have expectations which exceed their own. If you feel as if your mum/dad are on your back then talk to them. Clear the air to clear your head
  • Perhaps the biggest problem surrounding revision and exams is stress. It can make even the most ardent reviser think they can’t remember anything, and even lead to panic attacks

So how should I deal with exam stress?

  • Try not to be frightened of exam stress, but to see it as a positive force – after all, it keeps you on your toes mentally, and can help you focus on the task in hand
  • Avoid comparing your abilities with your mates. Everyone approaches revision in different ways, so just make sure you’ve chosen the method that works best for you
  • Panic is often triggered by hyperventilating (ie quick, shallow breaths). So if you feel yourself losing it during the exam, sit back for a moment and control your breathing
  • Steer clear of any exam ‘post-mortem’. Learning how other people got on can lead to worry about under-achieving
  • Ultimately, don’t lose sight of the fact that there is life after exams. Things might seem intense right now, but it won’t last forever

Next Steps

  • Does pulling an all-nighter really work? We want to know your best revision hacks and tips for staying calm during an exam over at our Exam Hacks campaign on Your Voices.
  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015