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Revision Tips to get you through your exams

Posted: 3rd February 2020 11:22

Whether during GCSE’s, A-Level’s or a university degree, exam period is a gruelling prospect for us all. With so much material and what seems like so little time, students everywhere conduct frantic Google searches with the hope of finding the answer to one question – what are the top tips for successful revision? Although it may seem like a long-winded task, there really are only a few crucial tips when it comes to tackling your own learning. Luckily we have decided to let you in on the top five things you NEED to know.


Start early with your revision notes

At some point in our education we have all faced the repercussions of cramming in revision at the last minute. To avoid the stress and save yourself a lot of time, preparing notes for each topic as you go along can be a life saver and decreases the risk of missing any vital information. Another element to planning is familiarising yourself with past papers to refine your exam technique and practice answering questions which often recur in proceeding years but with slightly different wording.

Stick to a timetable

Staying on track can be difficult during exam season, especially without scheduling your time. Sometimes creating a timetable for each day can be helpful and keep you from dwindling off track. One way to structure this could be through dividing your time slots based on individual topics or starting with your most recent topics and working your way back to the start of the year. If you begin with the intention of being organised and productive by constructing guidelines for your learning, you can rarely go wrong.

Find your style and environment

Learn how you work best and adapt

Not identifying your most suitable learning method can be detrimental to revision progress. Some of us are visual learners and use images and posters, whilst auditory learners prefer using music, or talking out loud. Some of us are verbally inclined and use reading and roleplay over those of us who prefer a more physical, hands-on approach. Many people work on a logical basis of puzzles and charts, be it alone or in a group. One size doesn’t always fit all and it’s vital to suit your needs best.

Adjust your learning space accordingly

Whilst the silent and solitary library scene may be the best place for those auditory or kinaesthetic learners, it may not be the best learning environment for everyone. It is always a good suggestion to work in a space that you associate with productivity; for example working from your bedroom may act as a tempting distraction, whereas working in an environment where there are other people may be constructive for you. Picking a productive study space will have more of an impact than you may realise.

Mind-set and distractions

Motivate yourself

Without motivation, productivity can become non-existent. A key way to stay motivated is to remember the goal you are trying to achieve through your revision. As in many instances in life, we can sometimes become demotivated by the expectation of immediate gratification or comparing ourselves to others. Recognising that there is inspiration in others progress, as well as the benefits of working hard and reaping the reward later, can be the biggest motivation of all.

Switch off the technology!

Our phones, tablets and array of endless notifications are one of the biggest distractions when it comes to staying focused and have been noted as the biggest contributors to students becoming side-tracked. A recommendation for going incognito is the Forest App, which plants a seed and watches it grow as your time away from your phone increases. Succumbing to temptation sees the tree wither away and can provide a good incentive to go offline for a while.

Revisit and share

Keep going back and revisiting the material

Essentially, our brains have unlimited storage capacity and, according to Professor Paul Reber, are able to hold the equivalent of 300 years’ worth of television. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop us from forgetting so much. The best way to avoid forgetting information is to make an active attempt to understand and revisit it regularly; supposedly helping us retain 70% more than when we merely learn something once. Practice really does make perfect.

Share your knowledge

Shared learning is praised by many for supposedly bettering the retention of information by 90%. The action of teaching others presents a chance to make mistakes and learn communication techniques. Additionally, the action of working with others provides the opportunity to learn from those who share a common goal or may be able to show you a different, more successful approach. Social learning can also act as comforting reassurance, highlighting those things that you may or may not already know.

Breaks and Sleep

Ensure that you are getting enough sleep

It is no myth that your concentration levels are deeply affected by the duration and regularity of your sleeping pattern, not to mention the impact that light from our smartphones can have on our production of sleep hormones. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that students get up to 10 hours sleep a night, with reports showing that most are getting less than seven. During revision, time away from our phones before a structured bed time is the best way forward.

Don’t overdo it, allow yourself a break

Despite what you’ve been told, revision shouldn’t involve long, tireless stints at the library. Human cognitive neuroscientists have advised that the best revision is continuous and spread into several sessions, recommended at about 20-30 minutes. They state that distraction is not always bad as long as it is planned and can involve something as simple as going outside for a while or having lunch with friends. Exercise is especially said to help reduce stress and anxiety and could be a useful activity at times of revision.

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