Studying for exams is never easy. I have gone through GCSEs, A-Levels and University and I can tell you that it hasn’t got easier over the years. If someone asked me how to revise, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell them.
GCSEs was the first time I experienced exams in a serious nature. I thought reading books was the best method but this soon became boring and uninspiring. A-Levels became more difficult and that’s when I introduced flashcards to my revision. Flashcards worked for me but I know some people don’t like using them. Then came university, where everything changed. Revision is so much more different in uni, I introduced a whiteboard, colour coding and youtube videos into my routine. These methods worked well for me but if they don’t work for you then don’t worry. Below are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that might be useful to you now or in the future. I’m not saying you have to follow these and I’m not telling you that they are the only methods of revision but, by all means, use them if they are useful.
Decide where you want to study. Changing study locations is a great way to generate new ideas and inspire you. If you feel most calm at home or in one particular place then stick to what you feel most comfortable with. I found that when I was studying for my GCSEs and A-Levels, my house was the best place because I could lock myself away from any distractions. Most of my university course was predominantly based on coursework. I found a little cafe in Cowbridge (a small market town in South Wales) which had Wifi access and some plug points for my laptop, the coffee wasn’t too bad either haha. I usually find libraries quite distracting, but if they work for you then great because you have access to all the resource you need to succeed.
Scheduling can work for some people but I know that others may argue that a schedule or plan is unrealistic. If you do like using this method, make a detailed plan outlining what you will study at what time of day. It’s important to remember to schedule breaks. Schedule breaks throughout the day to keep you interested in the subject you are studying. When I was revising, I used to schedule one every one to two hours or so.
In terms of how many times you should be revising, only you know what you need to do to pass your exams. The amount of time you spend revising will be shown through your exam results, so it’s all down to you.
I personally don’t like revising with other people because I usually get distracted easily. I did, however, make the most of living with my parents during my GCSEs and A Level’s where I would ask them to test me on certain subjects. If you like revising with friends then great because you can all test and help each other on a subject. Alternatively, you can book a room in a library or meet up in a cafe to discuss questions that you don’t know the answer to.
Don’t forget your teachers, tutors and supervisors. These people are there to offer guidance and support where you might need it. Believe it or not, they actually want to see you do well. So if you do need help, definitely go and see your teacher.
Each person has a unique way of revising, so don’t think that the way your friend revises is the way you should.
Don’t highlight everything you think is important because you’ll end up highlighting everything on the page. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Start revising early. Organisation is key when it comes to exam season.
Videos, images and any visuals are always useful. Anything colourful that displays the content you need to learn in a fun manner will help you remember it all more easily.
Work out a schedule that suits you best. If you prefer to revise in the morning then don’t revise till late hours of the evening. Make revision work for you.
Make summary notes. These will help you remember all the content but on a manageable scale.
Having a positive mindset will automatically give you the confidence to do better than someone who is negative about revision. Understandably revision is boring and if you had the option not to do it, then I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t but you can make it enjoyable if you are positive about it. I always used to think as revision like hurdles that will result in myself crossing the finish line.
Only use your notes. Attempting to revise from a friend’s notes will confuse you and you might not fully understand the content.
Past papers are your best friends. Downloading and printing them off is the next best thing to sitting the actual exam, ‘the next best thing’ being a term used loosely.
Turn your phone off whilst you revise. I always used to keep my phone next to me when I revised but I often found myself getting easily distracted.
Last-minute revision is a no go in my opinion. I know some of you work best cramming revision in the night before but I would seriously avoid this at the risk of not revising everything you have to learn for the exam.
Reward yourself when you reach milestones or results. This will not only give you motivation but it will show your worth.
Just remember, exams are hard as they’re meant to test your knowledge. But remember, you are not alone. There are millions of other students in the exact same situation as you.