Tips for exams

A young person is standing against a brick wall wearing a mask

Exams coming up? It’s completely normal to feel stressed before exams, but it is best to have a thorough revision schedule in place to help you keep on top of things. Learn more in our tips for exams.

What’s are the best revision techniques?

Studying works differently for everyone. For example, you might be a more visual learner, or you might be a person who benefits more from auditory techniques. Whilst you’re finding your learning style, there are a few basic rules for revision to help you come up with a study strategy:

  • Revision planning – different students swear by different approaches, but in every case your best bet is to set out a revision plan
  • Always make a study timetable – 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
  • Focus on your weakest points – 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

How to study

So, you’ve laid out your revision timetable – what next? The next step in to make sure you’re making the most of the time you’ve set aside to study, rather than waste it procrastinating. Some tips for how to study include:

Keeping at revision

First and foremost, no matter how tough it gets – stick to it! That way you can keep track of how much work you’ve done and what you have left to cover. It can be easy to give up when exam revision gets hard, but you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and hopefully will end up with a better grade if you work through it even when it gets difficult.

Creating a study zone

Choose a place in the house to revise where you won’t be distracted. We tend to find it’s best away from the TV, if you can help it! Make your family or housemates aware of the fact that you need some peace and quiet during this time, so they know not to disturb you.

Prevent boredom during exam studies

Switch revision between subjects to avoid becoming bored of a single topic. Remember to utilise resources for fresh info other than class notes – use the internet, it is quite literally a limitless source! Once you’re managed that, set yourself up with a ‘reward’ after every revision session. Nothing extravagant, just a small treat to help you get back to your books.

Revising effectively

The most effective way to approach a revision session is to focus on understanding rather than memorising. Exam questions are purposely written to test whether you really understand the theory, so the exam questions will look very different. If you’re not picking up the information studying by yourself, consider setting up a study group with your friends so that you can learn from each other.

Follow our advice to help you stay motivated

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 family 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

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
  • Read our guide to understanding panic attacks
  • 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 (find out more about life after studying)
  • Read our guide to coping with exam stress for more tips
  • Read this Student Space guide to healthy habits that could help your mental health

The night before your exam

Everyone gets stressed during exam season – it’s completely normal! Hopefully your stress isn’t taking over your life, especially the evening before where the anticipation is bound to be at its highest. Here are a couple of tips to try and limit your stress in check the night before your exam:

  • 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: read our guide to retakes and take a look at how you can appeal results

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research and to see how you could get involved or explore Student Space for support through the pandemic.

For more revision tips, head to this Student Minds article.

Check out this Student Minds resource on exam stress

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.
  • 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.


exams| revision

By Holly Turner

Updated on 01-Aug-2021