Exams are stressful, and no matter how good you are at a subject, you can find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of revision needed.
Whatever your age, the secret to exam success is preparation.
Let’s take a look at some top tips for successful exam revision.
1. Plan your time
Look at your exam timetable and plan out the weeks and days ahead to make the most of your free time and allocate revision time sensibly. If you are taking more than one subject, prioritise those that will need more time.
Procrastination is your enemy, but the plan needs to be realistic, so schedule some food, naps, and leisure. A good balance will help you feel more refreshed.
2. Create a Study space
If you want to help your concentration, you need a place that is free from distractions. It would help if you had a comfortable chair and desk that is large enough to spread out your books and notes.
If you don’t have somewhere quiet where you live, try looking for alternative spaces such as a library.
3. Take a break
Experts suggest that you need a 5 or 10 min break every hour for your brain to retain information and work effectively. Use your breaks to grab a healthy snack, make a drink or get outside for some fresh air.
It is normal to feel stressed when under pressure to perform in your exams. You can help reduce the effects of stress by introducing relaxation techniques.
You could read or listen to a podcast before you sleep so you can switch off or do some light exercise to destress.
If you are struggling, then try some mindfulness techniques. You can find lots of simple ideas here. You can also find lots of guided meditations on YouTube.
If nothing is helping, you should let your teacher or tutor know how you feel. They are equipped to offer you additional support.
5. Use some Revision Strategies
Experiment to find out what strategies are helpful to you. We are all different, and once you know what works, you can use it for all your revision. Simply reading your notes may not be enough to fully concentrate and engage with the material you need to learn.
Gather some resources before you revise. Highlighter pens, paper, cards and post-it notes are great tools.
- Flashcards: Summarise key points onto cards to use as memory prompts. You can take these with you to use at any time.
- Memory aids: If you need to memorise some facts or rules, you can help yourself with diagrams, flow charts or mind maps. Mnemonics are a popular memory technique (e.g., Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain for the colours of the rainbow). Try putting some on post-it notes and stick them where you will see them often.
- Practice Questions: These help you get into the swing of the exam format and practise under timed conditions.
- Revise with a friend: Sometimes, it can be helpful to study with other people, especially where you can talk through complex concepts to make them more straightforward or quiz each other to test your memory. Choose your revision buddy wisely!
6. Last-minute Revision
The night before the exam is too late to learn anything new, but you can pull out your flashcards to review some essential information.
Once you have refreshed your memory, put your revision material away so you can take some time to relax and get a good night’s sleep.
7. On the Day
Set your alarm to get up in plenty of time to eat a good breakfast. You don’t want to turn up stressed or hungry.
Remind yourself about the exam format before you go into the exam to be familiar with any special guidelines. Check you have all the right equipment for the exam, including the right pen colour.
When you enter the room, focus on breathing naturally to combat any nerves. Check you can see the clock to keep an eye on your time. When it is time to start, spend some time reading the instructions carefully, so you answer the right questions. It’s easy to get this wrong when you are anxious.
Although it seems like the most important thing right now, you can only do your best when you are in the exam room. Try not to dwell on it once you have finished, as it can affect your performance in your other exams.