How-to revise effectively and do well in exams

By Kayleigh White |

It’s March, the end of the second term, so every student knows what’s coming – assessment deadlines and exam season, *cue tears*. Although it feels like we have plenty of time, the overwhelming panic begins to set in early, we begin procrastinating, and then suddenly we have three days until our deadline and still no work has been done. The five tips I mention in this article will hopefully minimise or even potentially eliminate the worrying and awful stress that surrounds exams and deadlines for you, and if not – at least you procrastinated a little longer…

Start in plenty of time

Starting your revision early may seem fairly obvious, but it’s really important to get ahead of the game. Don’t wait until the week before an exam to start thinking about revision; instead, plan your time well in advance. For example, make a revision timetable for the month leading up to your exams – this way, you have plenty of time to go over things you may have missed, or areas you don’t understand, or to ask for help. Starting earlier can also make the process of revision and exams seem way less daunting because you’re giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to cover everything!

Get organised

This is the most important advice. Getting organised can really make everything so much clearer, and it can help boost your productivity and motivation.

As they say – “tidy room, tidy mind”.

Make sure all of your notes are organised and that you aren’t missing any of them or areas of your syllabus, and then use your resources to plan your revision out well before making a start. There’s no point in starting somewhere that seems off-balance or unnecessary for the sake of having ‘revised’ for an hour.

Begin with a list (we all love a good to-do list) for each module or exam, including what you want to cover in your revision. Plan your time around this, and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking things off. Ensure that you keep everything ordered, because this will help you find information quickly and make revision in general easier. Colour codes, folders, flashcards, you name it – find out which method works best for you and your revision.

Prioritise tasks

For a perfectionist, this can be super difficult. Trying to fit everything humanly possible into your revision schedule will not work, and it will just make everything harder to take in. Start with the exam or deadline that you have first, and this should be the first thing you work on, then continue to fit in your other deadlines chronologically. This way, you can complete work on time and leave a few days before the actual deadline so you have extra time, in case there are a few last-minute things to go over. Also, prioritise the areas that you don’t understand, and leave the things you’re confident with until the end of your revision. That way, you will feel a lot more prepared overall by the time you finish up.

Revision strategies

There is little point in revising if the information doesn’t go in. Often overlooked even at this stage in our education, it’s still so important to know what works best for you in terms of learning strategies and there are so many different methods of revising, mind maps, flashcards, colour coding, etc. You may not be using one you’re totally confident with.

Take this quiz to find out if you’re an auditory, visual or kinaesthetic learner –

This may help you to tailor your revision better to your individual way of processing the information you’re learning.

Visual learners benefit from colour coding, mind maps and writing things down on flashcards whereas auditory learners benefit from reading aloud, recording themselves speaking and listening to it and watching video explanations. Kinaesthetic learners benefit from revising whilst moving, acting out information or associating activities with revision. Apply these techniques and this may help with the stress surrounding notions that “nothing is going in!”, that we all experience during exam season.

Take a break!

Stress around exam season can really take its toll, so it’s important to make sure that you look after yourself. Relaxing and taking breaks during revision can be just as important as completing the revision itself. Having a cup of tea or going for a walk can be really refreshing and can reset your mind, especially if you’re down here in the beautiful Cornish surroundings! Take advantage of the local beaches, or if you’re really keen, take your revision outside – a change of scenery every now and then will really help the information stick long-term and prevent boredom and burn-outs whilst studying. A social life is still necessary, even in exam season, so the key is to find a healthy balance.

“Work hard, Play hard!”

Lastly, remember that exams and deadlines are not the end of the world. Have confidence and faith in yourself, and remind yourself that you can achieve success and do anything that you put your mind to, plus there’s always re-sits… Right?