5 Ways To Optimise Your Revision Time

If there’s one word that sends all students into panic mode it’s ‘exam’. We dread hearing it but we know this isn’t the first time we’ve heard it and it certainly won’t be the last! You might have 3 months to revise or you might have 3 weeks, but regardless of the time span between being told about the dreaded exam and when it actually arrives, most people make the same mistakes with their revision over and over again.

To make sure you’re revising effectively it’s helpful to be aware of the common mistakes students make. If you want to have the best chance of succeeding in your exams, you need to remember these 5 key things:


  • Ditch The Social Networking

This is probably something every student knows they need to do but we don’t always abide by it. Students sending and receiving messages whilst studying are more likely to get lower results on tests, and are less effective at tasks e.g. note taking. Banning phones in schools has even been shown to improve test scores by more than 6% in some cases and we all know that could be the difference between a pass and a fail! The mere sight of a phone can reduce your focus so keep it out of reach whilst you’re studying and preferably during classes too. Whether its social media or just texting a friend, it can wait until you’re completely finished for the day. It’ll give you something to look forward to when you’re done revising, and when you get a good grade at the end of it you’ll be grateful you ditched the phone!


  • Allow Yourself Breaks

Sometimes we have so much content to revise we forget that our brains can’t function effectively constantly. It’s too easy to spend hours in the library either eating lunch and revising at the same time or skipping it all together! Try to revise for around 40 minutes at a time and then give yourself a 10 minute break. Be sure to do something completely relaxing, physical or creative, any of these types of activities will refresh your brain for the next revision session. Make yourself a snack or a hot drink, do some push-ups or yoga, draw something or simply just lie down quietly for 10 minutes! Whatever works for you that doesn’t distract you so much that you end up not going back to studying, just do it.


  • Make A Schedule

One of the most obvious ways to make sure you get all of your revision completed in time for the exam is to make a revision timetable. If you don’t plan to start revising on the day the exam is first set, then the least you could do is spend about 45 minutes just reviewing what it is that needs to be learnt. Get together all of the resources you need for the topics you need to cover and then split up the topics into chunks. For example, if you have 10 topics to cover and you have a week before an exam, try revising two a day for 5 days and then using the other two days to go over and test yourself on what you know. Timetables are simple to make and they will keep you on track!


  • Start Early

Leading on from making a schedule, one of the best things you can do to help yourself be completely ready for your exam is start revising early. Early means two things here: early in the day i.e. in the morning and as early as you can from when you know a test is looming. A lot of people find it helpful to make revision notes but whilst you’re writing them up, make sure you’re actually taking in the information and testing yourself along the way. It’s too easy to highlight 75% of a page and put pretty bubbles around things but if you’re not taking in any of the information then it’s a waste of time. Otherwise, by the end of the week you’ve got 30 pages of beautifully written up notes and only one day to actually revise the content! The worst thing you can do when you find out you have an exam and constantly tell yourself ‘I’ll start tomorrow’, because half the time we all know tomorrow never comes! Don’t beat yourself up for not starting revision in the first couple of days after being told you have an exam (providing you have time of course!), because with other assignments  to complete, it’s not always going to be possible. But set yourself a date to start and make sure your timetable doesn’t mean you’re still revising new content a day or two before the exam!


  • Repetition Repetition Repetition!

What does ‘pathways between neurons can be strengthened over time’ mean to you? Well, probably nothing. But its scientists complex way of saying ‘repetition is key’! Repeating the information that you revise will help to make it stay in your brain. Make your notes and look at them every day, read them out loud, give someone your notes and get them to read the start of a sentence and you tell them what the end is. There are endless ways to rehearse the information you need to know. Make sure you understand what everything means too! You’ll find learning and repeating a lot easier if you actually understand what it all means. Find ways to revise that work for you. Repetition on its own will allow you to remember information for a short amount of time, however being creative with the content you need to know will allow you to remember it more long term. Take your revision notes and make associations with the information, be creative, draw pictures, make sense of it.

Follow all of these handy tips when it comes to your revision and you’re off to a good start! Get a good night’s sleep the day before the exam and try not to pull any all nighters! Good Luck!


Martine (@MartineFykin) is a psychology graduate and an aspiring teacher from Anglia Ruskin University. Living in Essex she has a passion for writing, fitness and travelling the world. Check out her LinkedIn here.

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