Exam Season

This page contains resources to help you with your revision and exam preparation.

10 top study tips, tricks and hacks to nail your exams

  1. Get organised Create a revision timetable. It’s a quick win and it’ll help you focus on what you need to do. Don’t forget to plan in breaks!
  2. Start early A lie-in may be tempting, but facts are easier to digest first thing in the morning. By starting at 9am, you can get more revision done early, leaving you feeling positive about what you’ve achieved. Try to get at least eight hours’ sleep a night (and stick to a routine). It’ll help you to focus and remember things more easily.
  3. Bite-size chunks – Tackling a whole subject or a topic you’ve struggled with can be scary. Break it down into smaller chunks to make it easier to understand and less overwhelming.
  4. Set manageable goals Set goals to achieve every time you sit down to study. It’ll help you get something out of every session, keep you motivated and give you a sense of achievement.
  5. Try different revision methods Research shows that doing a range of activities will benefit you. Organise your folders and simplify your class notes. Make summary skeleton notes, mind maps, audio notes and diagrams for key facts. Gradually refine pages down to brief notes and acronyms. 
  6. Study buddies A good friend doesn’t always make a good study buddy. Who’ll make a positive difference? A family member perhaps? Who’ll distract? If you think you’ll get more done on your own, do it (but still make time to see friends).
  7. Avoid burn out – You can’t work non-stop. Take time out to relax your brain, it’ll help you concentrate and absorb things. Take breaks, get regular exercise, stay hydrated and treat yourself, e.g. an extra episode, an afternoon off…
  8. Tune in The right tunes can block out your surroundings and help you focus, but don’t waste time creating playlists. Music without vocals may prove the most study-friendly option.
  9. Practise, practise, practise… Past papers will get you accustomed to the Qs you’ll face – the wording, format, etc. Practise picking out the key parts of the question quickly and writing essays/answering questions under timed conditions. 
  10. Remove tempting distractions – Find a well-lit quiet place to study away from any distractions. Make sure you have everything you need for your session: drinks, stationery, paper and resources. Deactivate/uninstall social media or apps that suck up your time. Or be strict about when you can use them and for how long.

Some other good online revision resources include BBC Bitesize and The Uni Guide.

Revision – the most effective study strategies

The word revision means: re = ‘again’ and vision = ‘to look’. Revising is relooking at something that has been learned – it has nothing to do with exams or grades!

A lot of research has been done recently into the most effective study strategies. The main four are briefly explained below:

  1. Retrieval Practice: This is retrieving knowledge from memory without any cues. A brain dump / brain drain / knowledge splat is a very simple revision strategy involving ‘dumping’, ‘draining’ or ‘splatting’ everything you know about a topic onto a blank piece of paper. Find out more.
  2. Spacing: This is leaving a gap between learning information and revisiting it. Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve suggests revisiting knowledge revised two or three days ago means you’ll be more likely to accurately remember it in the long term. Find out more.
  3. Elaboration: This is using ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions to explain our learning. How does X work? Why does X happen? Why does it make sense that _____? Why is this true? Why is X true and not Y? When did X happen? What caused X? What is the result of X? 
  4. Dual-coding: This is using images to help remember your learning. Studies show that when you create images to represent a vocabulary word or quote, you’re more likely to remember it. You could include simple images on flashcards and use these to test yourself. Find out more.

Why not explore the greats and not-so greats of revision (and popular culture!) in our Revision Methods and Planning presentation?
 

Creating a Revision Timetable

What does an effective revision timetable look like and how can we ensure we stay healthy during ‘exam season’? Find out more.
 

Subject Specific Revision/Exam Tips:

Some Final Quick Pointers:

  • Set your phone screensaver to an image that represents your goal or motivation – this should help you refocus when your phone becomes a distraction.
  • Alternatively, give a parent, carer or someone else you trust your phone for a set period of time so that you can do revision without any temptation to go on it. 
  • Always start by answering an exam question and/or writing out facts on the topic you need to revise, then use your notes to check your answers and go over any details where you made mistakes. Finish by re-answering the question and/or writing out the facts, compare your responses to make sure you’re making progress.
  • Make a list of your least favourite topics in a subject or the questions you least want to come up, focus revision time on these first.
  • Picture yourself being in the exam room, imagine how you’ll feel, think of strategies you can use to keep focussed. This could be simple things such as making sure you’ve had a good breakfast or more specific things such as seeking guidance from teachers in advance if you know you’re likely to get distracted. 
  • Remember that it is better to work on being able to answer all questions to an equal standard in a given subject, rather than knowing some topics very well and hardly any details for others. This will prevent any chance you will be stuck because ‘the wrong questions came up’.