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How to nail exam revision

Since 1986, when GCSEs were introduced, exams have been an inevitable part of every career path, and let’s be honest – they aren’t anyone’s favourite thing to do. However, our six tips on revision planning, approach and practice will help the moment you turn over that first paper seem less daunting.

Remember, you have loads of time to prepare, many millions have done this before you, and whatever happens, you‘ll be ok. Good luck!

1.     Create a timetable

Planning out what you’re going to work on and when allows you to spend more time revising and less time worrying that you’ve forgotten something. Start by setting up a calendar, making note of key dates, then add in study sessions ahead of each exam, preferably in one-hour slots. There are loads of free apps, including Smart Timetable and Adapt, that can help you do this.

2.     Take regular breaks

If you are faced with one big block of endless revision, you’ll be heading on a one-way train to burnout or procrastination. The key to a good revision timetable is making sure it’s realistic and something you can and, more importantly, want to stick to. Try setting mini milestones with rewards for reaching them, like allowing yourself 15 minutes on TikTok for completing a topic of revision.

3.     Invest in some stationery

Oh, the joys of packs of multicoloured pens and a rainbow of flash cards! Just like a fresh pair of trainers can motivate you to exercise, new stationery can inject some fun into your revision. As well as making it easier to find specific topics, colour co-ordinating notes has also been proven to help you retain 50-80% more information.

4.     Discover your learning style

Believe it or not, there is no one correct way to study. Everyone is different, so once you understand whether you are a visual, auditory, reading or kinaesthetic learner, remembering and recalling new information will become much easier. Check out this handy guide to the ‘VARK theory’ to find out whether you should be creating mind maps, recording notes or playing games.

5.     Buddy up

Known as the ‘protégé effect’, teaching others what you’ve learnt or testing them on what they know can be extremely beneficial. The process forces you to break down information into small, manageable chunks, which will reinforce your own understanding and bring to light any areas you need to spend more time on.  

6.     Practice, practice, practice!

Memorising your notes will only get you so far. Exams papers don’t just test what you know, but how you apply that knowledge, so it’s vital you understand what they’re asking of you. Head to SaveMyExams (or ask your teachers) for access to past papers, then use the marking scheme to check your answers and get into the mind of an examiner.

Looking for extra support? Postgraduate students from Liverpool John Moores University are hosting a free Revision Masterclass, featuring useful advice around mental health maintenance and memory strategies, on Wednesday 10th May. Register here.

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