Exams can be a nervous time for all students but this does not have to be the case, with some careful planning and sufficient revision you can approach your exams in a positive and confident manner. This page offers some tips, advice and guidance to help you get the greatest value from your revision time and reduce the stress levels.
One of the first and most important factors to remember is that exams are designed to test your understanding of subjects you have learned. Exams are not about committing a bunch of facts to memory, but rather testing an understanding of your subjects and the information learned throughout your school life. The greater your understanding of subjects, the greater your chance of success during exams. This demonstrates the importance, not only of revision, but of learning through your entire time at school.
Revision Techniques and Environment
How to study
The number one tip for effective revision is to plan your time. This ensures you allocate the right amount of time to each subject (generally with more time allocated to difficult subjects), prevents you from working too hard and helps you to feel calm and organised. Your revision should start approximately two months before your first exam and using your exam dates will help you to organise subjects.
Complete a revision planner and use this like a diary, filling in planned commitments and exam dates. From there you can start to allocate revision time to balance your days. Adding in the topics you intend to cover can be a good way to get the most out of your revision time and ensure you cover all of the areas you intend to, prior to your exams. You can download our revision planner to get started.
Avoid last-minute revision late into the night, it is much more important to feel fresh and well rested on the day of your exam.
To get the most out of revision you must find a style which works for you. Teachers will talk to you about revision techniques such as prompt cards, mnemonics, diagrams, group study and classroom notes to help you find a way of revising to suit your learning style. There are also a lot of books and online resources available to help you to revise but there are some universal ‘good practice’ ideas which all students will find useful:
- Turn your chosen style into revision prompts by noting key facts – this will become a valuable aid to your last minute revision before exams and save you frantically searching for the information you need in textbooks. The important aspect to remember here is to use prompts you will understand later, “Elephant Grey 10 Years” may not mean much when it comes to exam day!
- Try working through practice papers and time yourself to get more accustomed to exam conditions. Use these to identify gaps in your knowledge.
- Talk to your teacher! From revision styles to information, from text books to revision guides, your teacher will be happy to help you get the most out of your time. Revision classes can be a good way of doing this.
- Change styles – constantly reading and making notes can be become hard work and a barrier to learning. Ask someone to test you on areas you have learned to check your progress and give your revision a change of pace.
- Don’t over do it. Tiredness is your number one revision enemy; don’t work too long or too late. Eat and drink regularly, keep to a routine and take short breaks every hour or two. Working late is not worth it if you are too tired to remember the material you are studying. Review your revision plan on a weekly basis – if it’s not working, change it!
Your study area
Choosing the right space to revise is as important as the revision itself. Constant disruptions and distractions undermine your efforts and waste the valuable time you spend. To get the most from your revision time try to plan ahead and consider the following:
- Will there be distractions from people, or television?
- Do you have plenty of light, to avoid wasting extra concentration?
- Is your study area quiet?
- Will you be comfortable during your study time?
- Do you have everything you need, such as books and pens? Also, don’t forget a drink to keep you going!
Coping with exam stress