The saying ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ is always applicable when it comes to exams. Getting yourself ready for an exam is of the utmost of importance, and there’s a lot more to it than just sitting down and re-reading notes. In order to feel the most prepared for your upcoming exams, you need to make sure that you’re on top of revision, you’re looking after yourself both mentally and physically and have all the resources you need that will help you achieve your best on the day.
To help you feel confident for the big day, we’ve set out some simple steps and exam revision tips you can follow that will make revision manageable and leave you feeling calm and at ease when your exams come around.
Create a revision timetable
Looking at how much revision you need to do in the run-up to your exams can be overwhelming. There are multiple subjects and topics you need to cover and it can be hard knowing where to start. In order to make the task more digestible, make your own revision timetable - break it down by each subject you have to revise for and allocate topics for each of these slots. By doing this, you’ll know exactly what areas you’re supposed to cover for the time you’ve allocated and it will save you flicking through books and flitting between subject areas.
Having a revision timetable adds structure to your study time and helps to keep you motivated during this stressful period. When drawing up your timetable, we suggest allocating 50 minutes - 1 hour for each separate subject and mixing up the order. Research suggests that working in 20-30 minutes slots works best because this is when your concentration levels are at their highest. We've created an exam revision timetable template of what we suggest that you can download for free here and populate with the subjects you need to revise for.
Find a study partner
A misconception about revising is that it should be a solitary task, this is in part true because it limits distractions. However, a carefully selected study partner can help you during revision periods. Setting up a revision camp with a friend can help to keep you motivated, it also lends itself to revision exercises such as flash cards or reciting retained knowledge. Additionally, revising with someone who is studying the same subjects as you means you can discuss subject areas together and you’re best placed to ask for help if you’re struggling on a topic. If you opt for this, a great way to stay ahead is by working with a partner in the same set or class as you, and with someone who has done the same amount of revision as you previously.
Set up a study space
Setting up a study space is critical to a successful revision session. This can either be at home or in a public area so long as it’s somewhere you can work distraction-free. Things to take into consideration when setting up this space include having a wifi connection if you require the internet, being away from distractions like TVs, close to plug sockets if you’re working off a laptop and ensuring you have space to keep all the resources you need with you. Great places for this are libraries, school study zones, your dining room table or relaxed coffee shops near your home.
Starting your revision sooner rather than later means you’re more likely to get through everything you’ve planned. Set an alarm and get up early so you can get started - the sooner you complete all of your revision the sooner you can relax and unwind! Not to mention that research has shown that you’re more likely to complete all that you have planned when you start earlier in the day. This is because as time ticks on, you’re more tempted to get outside.
Exams are stressful, whether it’s the pressure you put on yourself or the stress you feel from peers, parents and teachers - it’s easy to become overwhelmed. This is completely normal, in fact having nerves in the run up to exam season is often what gives you the final push to finish your revision and really cement the knowledge you’ve learned. However, in order to keep your stress levels under check, focusing on your wellbeing and work-life balance is a top priority, not to mention that maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this period will only benefit you when it comes to taking your exam.
Exercise is proven to help reduce stress which is why it’s important to partake in such activity during stressful periods, such as exams. Exercise helps to boost your self esteem and can make you feel happier after having completed it. Going for a run or a swim also works as a healthy distraction that can help burn off the extra adrenaline you may be feeling due to exam stress. Physical activity increases your heart rate and makes the blood circulate faster which means that the brain gets more oxygen, increasing productivity whilst reducing tiredness and stress.
During intense revision periods it’s really important that you reward yourself for all the effort and hardwork you’re dedicating to your studies. Allowing yourself time to blow off some steam or relax will help stop you going stir crazy and prevent boredom from setting in. It will also help you understand the importance of a healthy work/life balance which will benefit you greatly when moving on to university or employment.
Use your family and friends
Your friends and family want you to achieve your best and are going to be willing to help you in any way they can when it comes to revision. Taking your family up on their offers to help you revise will prove beneficial to you - ask them to test you on topics you have covered or simply ask them to listen to you explain a subject to them out loud as this will help reinforce the knowledge you have revised and will give you a pleasant break from silent study time. Also, asking parents and friends to not distract you during study hours will help remove the temptation to put off revising for something a little more appealing!
It may seem like your life is consumed by revision right now, but it’s important that you maintain a positive mental attitude throughout the exam period and not allow yourself to get disheartened. When the thought of revision does become too much, remember why you’re dedicating your time to this, but also remember that exams aren’t the be all and end all - all you can ever aspire to achieve is your personal best. Also, having plans post exam season will give you something to work toward and look forward to!