Revision tips for exams

Revising is an unfortunate fact of life, but a lot of people don’t know how to go about it. Do you make flashcards? Do you start revising with mind maps? Truth be told, there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions because people learn in different ways. But we’ll try and give you some helpful hints.

Graphic shows a young person revising for their exams

What are the best revision techniques?

Studying works differently for everyone. For example, you might be a more visual learner. This means that you use revision tools like mind maps and post-it notes to get things in your head. First and foremost, you should take the time to figure out which type of learner you are (there are a bunch of quizzes if you don’t know where to start). In the meantime there are a few basic rules for revision to help you come up with a study strategy. These are our top three best revision techniques.

  • Revision planning – different students swear by different approaches, but in every scenario your best bet is to set out a revision plan so you know where you’re headed.
  • Always make a study timetable – Start early. It’s never too soon to suss out how much work you have to cover. Work out how much time you have available between now and the exams, and then draw up a realistic timetable.
  • Focus on your weakest points When you’re drawing up your timetable, make sure to concentrate on your weaknesses without losing sight of your strong points. There’s truly no point in going over something you already know 10,000 times BUT you also shouldn’t go through it 0 times just cause you feel confident. It’s all about balance. 

How to study and revise effectively

So, you’ve taken the plunge and laid out your revision timetable – what next? You’ll then have to make sure you’re making the most of your study time, rather than waste it procrastinating. Sounds simple but we know that it is anything but. Check out these important revision tips to keep you focused:

Sticking at revision

First and foremost, no matter how tough it gets – just keep going! 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 end up with a better grade by following your timetable. Plus, if you really really can’t take another minute of maths revision you can always make some tactical swaps. As long as you give each subject the time it needs in the long run, that’s all that matters. 

Prevent boredom during exam studies

Switch revision between subjects to avoid becoming bored of a single topic. On top of that you should also be looking at different sources e.g. the internet and your textbook, to avoid relying too heavily on your class notes. 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. It could even be something as simple as an Oreo cookie!

How to revise

The most effective way to approach a revision session is to focus on understanding rather than memorising. Exam boards purposefully write questions to test whether you really understand what’s going on instead of just rewriting your textbook. So if you’re not picking up the information by studying by yourself, it might be worth setting up a study group with your friends. That way you can learn from each other.

Follow our advice to help you stay motivated when studying.

What are the biggest problems when revising?

  • Putting off revision. Basically just finding excuses to do other things or leaving all the work until the last minute. The sad fact is the more you delay, the more likely you are to get into a sticky situation and panic. That’s why we recommend avoiding social media and other distractions.
  • Some people are also terrified of disappointing their parents. Often this is an internal pressure, while others feel their folks have expectations which exceed their own. If you feel as if your family are constantly on your case then talk to them. You need to clear the air before you can clear your head.
  • We reckon that the biggest problem about 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. If that sounds like you then just keep reading.

How should I deal with exam stress?

The night before your exam

Everyone gets stressed during exam season – it’s completely normal! But hopefully your stress isn’t leaving you feeling overwhelmed, especially the evening before where the anticipation is bound to be at its highest. Here are a couple of tips in case it is though: 

  • Avoid last-minute panic revision the night before. Instead, complete your revision plan early, prepare yourself, then relax for the rest of the day.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep, it’ll help your brain function properly the next day. Also make sure you don’t eat too late and try to avoid looking at screens for an hour before heading to bed.
  • Just a quick reminder: Fingers-crossed you’ll pass. But failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure in life. Plus, you can always 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.

If you’re looking to help out with this topic then Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research and to see how you could get involved.

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.

Tags:

exams| revision

By Holly Turner

Updated on 14-Mar-2022