How to revise for exams: top tips from Juliet Landau-Pope, study skills expert

One of the main sources of stress among students at this time of year is not knowing HOW to revise effectively for exams. Getting organised and planning a study schedule is key. It’s also vital to find techniques that work best for you as an individual. Much will depend on your subjects and your level of study but here are some top tips:

  1. For each exam, write out a checklist of topics. Display this somewhere that you’ll see regularly such as on a wall near your desk. Get into the habit of ticking off topics as you revise them in order to track progress.
  2. When you plan your timetable, allow plenty of time to rotate subjects and repeat topics. Set weekly goals but be realistic about what you can achieve. 
  3. When it comes to making notes, experiment with different ways of summarising ideas and information. Try making mind-maps, diagrams, tables and lists, posters, flashcards, audio and video recordings. Be creative but don’t obsess about presentation – remember the point about revision aides is to consolidate your learning and to test yourself. 
  4. Resist temptation to use notes from other students, to rely on study guides or to download ready-made flashcards. You’re more likely to remember notes or diagrams that you’ve written yourself.
  5. Practice answering different types of questions under timed conditions. For longer questions, devise essay plans with lists of key points. 
  6. If you’re prone to procrastination, set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on bite-sized tasks. Switch off notifications if you’re working on a computer. And put your mobile phone in another room while you’re studying – even it’s switched off, it’ll still distract you.
  7. Schedule regular breaks, make time to exercise and get plenty of sleep. Healthy routines not only boost energy, focus and memory; they’ll also help to manage stress.
  8. Don’t be afraid to turn to teachers, family or friends for advice or support. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Good luck!

For more details of Juliet’s study skills coaching and workshops, see:

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