Revision help: the best and worst things you can do

You’ve probably heard a million times that when it comes to revision everyone’s different. But, like throwing up on your bed, some things are a bad idea for everybody. And some things will set you on the path to success. So here’s a little revision help: the best – and worst – ways to revise.

The best:

1. Know where to start

When the pressure’s on, it can be tricky to manage your time. So, before you do anything, make a list of all of your subjects and the topics you’re studying below them e.g. “English: Of Mice and Men, key terms, unseen poetry practice.” It’s a great way to remember what you have and haven’t revised, and it means you can work methodically through each subject without getting too confused.

2. Be the teacher

pet dog

It has been scientifically proven that you learn and remember 90% of what you teach to other people, and this is widely appreciated to be the most effective study technique. If you don’t fancy keeping a friend locked in your bedroom for hours on end while you talk to them, try talking to a pet or a teddy. It’s just as effective although obviously Fluffy can’t ask questions, so try to anticipate things they might ask – if they could – and answer them at the end.

3. Revise in exam conditions

If you’re preparing for exams, it’s recommended that you try to prepare in exam conditions: it will get you used to the quiet of the exam hall and restricts the amount of distractions available. This works particularly well with past papers: turn your phone and computer off and set yourself the time you would normally have in the exam to finish the paper. If, at the end of the time, you haven’t finished the paper, then leave it there and add up the marks. You can finish the paper afterwards to test yourself on all of the questions, but it’s good practice to see how you’d cope with the time limits imposed during exams. It might also be useful to leave a note on your door asking people not to disturb you until the time your practice exam finishes.

The worst:

1. No reading!


Restricting your revision technique to just reading through everything is unlikely to work. Yet this technique is often the most popular. Instead, while you’re reading through try to highlight the key points, and after you’ve finished reading small sections go through the highlighted points and transfer them to flashcards, and then test yourself on each flashcard. Go through them all and don’t stop until you can remember everything you’ve written down.

2. Cramming

You’ll remember around 10% of the things you cram in the last hour or so before the exam, so take the time to de-stress, relax and take your mind off everything. Panicking will lead to forgetting, so chill out and enjoy yourself a little. You’ve worked hard enough by this point.

3. Don’t work too hard


Try to avoid working in long shifts: anything over an hour at a time you’ll end up forgetting, so break up your revision with regular ten to twenty minute breaks. During this time grab a drink or a snack, watch some mindless TV, play with your dog, do whatever needs no thought at all and requires minimal effort. While you’re revising try to eat healthily and do some light exercise: you’ll have loads of energy for the rest of the day and you’ll stay focused. Finally: stay positive! Don’t stress and be happy. It’ll do wonders for your work ethic.

Written by Ruth Hough

A MyTutor Tutor

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