Revision tips

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

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

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

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 25-May-2021