How To Revise For Exams

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Here are some tips for how to revise effectively, even if you've left it until the last minute!

Set Your Space

Do you have somewhere quiet to work? If you need a bit of background music, try lofi study beats so you don't get caught up in the lyrics. If you can, be somewhere specific for studying - like a desk or choose a specific chair at a table so that view is what you revise to. 


Plan your days

How many modules or subjects do you have to revise? Which ones are most urgent? Divide your days up to cover everything. If you're a bit short of days, or some subjects are trickier then prioritise the ones that are sooner, or will take longest. 


Check Your Notes

Do they make sense? They may have a the time, but "don't do the blue one" may not make sense later. If they do, you're good to go. Chances are, you took more detailed notes if things are complicated or you the topic or idea was new to you. 

Rewrite anything you haven't remembered in your own words to help you remember. If your notes make no sense at all, go back to your workbooks, textbooks or look online for resources. 


Do it your way

We all work differently. If you like colourful notes and diagrams then go ahead - as long as it's not procrastination to find enough highlighters! You may prefer online quizzes or going through practice questions. If you like to make up silly songs or create pictures in your mind then go for this. 


Change it up

Keep yourself interested and help your brain by mixing topics or subjects. If you have to revise Spanish and History, see if you can explain key facts in Spanish. Connect facts and formulae - Boyle's law talks about pressure and everyone was under pressure in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1968. This will help your brain make new connections and you'll find it easier to remember. If that seems like a faff, then swap between subjects or modules rather than having a whole day on one topic. 


Take breaks

The Pomodoro Technique is great for productivity - work for twenty five minutes then a five minute break (I've suggested 20 in the graphic to work up). If twenty five minutes is too much then do ten minutes, a five minute break, ten more minutes, five minute break. That way you've done twenty minutes in the twenty five, instead of staring at the wall for twelve. 


Don't forget breaks for the things you enjoy. See a friend, play a game, have a kick-about. You need to refresh your mental energy and revising all day won't work - even if you're in a last-minute panic. Stressed people don't take things in. 


Scents matter

Memory and smells are very strongly linked. Wear a smell when you revise and in the exam to help your brain make links. It can also put you in the mood to get your head down and work. 


Explain it to someone else

The best way to retain information is to explain it to someone who doesn't know about the topic. If you can explain something simply to a beginner then you really understand it. If you find you can't, or you can only use certain phrases and can't put it into your own words, then look online for the topic explained in a different way. If you have no one to explain it to, write a cheat sheet for newbies. 


Use Technology

There are loads of productivity apps to gamify and motivate you. There are great YouTube videos on every topic as well as podcasts. If you're not great at reading, Word has an Immersive Reader mode that will read work to you. This can work for your notes, and hearing it in a different voice can make it seem more interesting. There are also screen readers for online articles. 


Practice Exam Elements

If you have use of a computer, make sure you are familiar with the program and practice typing. If you're on paper, make sure you are used to writing for the length of an exam - it can be a lot! If you really hate writing, then try a larger drawing project to build up stamina. 


You've got this! Good luck in your exams!