Revision is horrible. Nobody likes it, and apart from the gifted few who are naturally academic, everyone has to do it in order to achieve the top grades. It takes forever and there are so many more exciting things that you could be doing but as cheesy as it sounds ‘short term pain for long term gain’. I don’t know when you are reading this but as I’m writing this there is about 5 weeks until exam season and so it is the final push and can therefore cause a lot of stress.
If there is one thing that I can talk about confidently, it’s organisation. I love to be organised and I equally am a massive perfectionist, so if you combine the two together I can certainly tell you a thing or two about revision. I am currently doing my A levels (economics, business, sociology and geography in case anyone is wondering) and I am getting relatively high grades so I thought as exam season is approaching it would be a good time to talk about revision on my blog. A lot of my demographic is my age (16-18), so many of you are currently preparing for exams next month (whether that be GCSEs or A levels) so these words could be helpful . However if you are a regular reader of my blog I’m not sure if this post will be for you, as I am more hoping this is the kind of post that someone stumbles across stressed out revising one night and this gives them that last bit of motivation or some advice.
At the end of the day, the type of revision you do depends solely on the type of learner you are. You could read these tips that work effectively for me but they could not work for you, and that will likely be because we are not the same type of learner. Teachers go on about knowing how is best to revise, but actually it is really really crucial. Heads up, I am a very strong visual learner so if you are more auditory or kinaesthetic these tips will not be the best ways for you and I would recommend finding someone who can provide that sort of advice.
If you are the type of person that likes time scheduled and structured events I would certainly recommend a timetable. I did this last year and it worked very well around exam season for me to plan my time as much as possible and really focus. However my life is not very time specific, and I often find myself doing things spontaneously (going out for meals for example), and having a timetable often made me feel guilty that I wasn’t following it to the minute. I get very bad revision guilt (Is that a thing?!) so I found that if I didn’t stick to it it made me feel worse! However if you are the type of person that isn’t too motivated and needs something that forces revision on you I think this is the perfect option. First block in your lessons and any time that you certainly can’t do (with a job etc) and then from that add in your revision times, prioritising your weaker subjects first because they are the ones you need to focus on the most. For GCSEs I did a 2 week rota so it wasn’t as repetitive, and it worked very well for the last few months before my exams when I was revising a lot. I made mine on excel and I will leave the template on this blog if you want to replicate it and just add your own events, it is worth it for a last push at studying before the exams.
My timetable template: https://1drv.ms/x/s!Atl-T388SdqVgiBxkiwA5DmQszzx
If you know me at all, you will know that I am the queen of to do lists, they are the best! For my personality, these are so much more productive than a timetable because I can adapt each day to my social events and lessons that day. The trick is to not add too much that it is overwhelming but not add too little that it is done after 20 minutes. I usually aim for 3-5 tasks per day and I don’t tend to stop until they are done. I like that they are not time specific, so as long as I get them done I am happy and therefore I don’t get as much guilt when I am socialising and not working. I followed the trend and started my bullet journal back in January and I don’t think I will ever go back, it’s so good and I can adapt it to what I want to write.
If you want to know about my bullet journal have a look at this blog post.
Now your time management is organised, it’s now time for the actual revision. I have bullet pointed my most effective methods, although a mixture of all of them is the best and most effective. Chopping and changing methods is good in order to give your brain something new to focus on, and as someone with a low attention span I have to be able to change it up quickly in order to stay motivated.
Prioritise and condense all information. Go through your textbook and class notes and write down the main points (especially definitions) that you need to remember. It is easier to learn and revise from smaller notes than being handed a whole subject textbook, it’s too overwhelming and you will end up procrastinating.
Mindmaps and flashcards. This is the best way that I revise, because like I said I am a visual learner and therefore colourful posters help me to learn the most effectively. I often do mindmaps for the larger concepts and flashcards for the individual studies and theories, and it works so well. Make sure to make them colourful but not too overbearing and only write down the most important ideas (this links back to condensing information).
YouTube videos. Another method I find really helpful is using YouTube videos to aid my revision. There are so many videos and help online from both teachers and students, and they are very useful to see someone else ‘teach’ and get a different perspective. A really good way that I revise is getting a blank a4 piece of paper and whilst watching a video scribble down as many things you didn’t know as possible. Then afterwards I write these up in neat on my normal mindmaps. Some revision videos are better than others, I personally prefer the more upbeat short ones as opposed to the long ‘classroom’ style videos but it’s all personal preference.
Past papers and essay plans. If you are doing essay based subjects, half of the effort is knowing the exam structure and what the examiners are wanting as opposed to actually knowing the content. The best way to do this is by writing as many essays as possible, but I know how time consuming it is and equally how boring it is. Instead, try and do a lot of essay plans and make sure you know what you would write in an essay if it came up. Examiners tend to ask similar things and just change the wording so the more past questions you do the more likely you are to understand the exam when it comes!
Make a checklist. Most exams have specifications now (basically a list of everything you need to know) and I would highly recommend either asking your teacher for it or taking matters into your own hands and printing one of the internet. These are so useful to focus on what you need to know, and once you have a list of everything it makes it easy to see what you need to focus on and it’s very satisfying to highlight the spec once you have revised a task.
Pretty Stationary. I swear this is what keeps me revising and motivated for so long! I love pretty pens, fineliners and anything that makes my revision notes look gorgeous (whilst still being practical of course). My most recent purchase but my favourite in a while was a set of pastel highlighters. I never used to use regular ones because they were too bright and distracting but the pastel ones have changed my revision notes and I love them, so pretty! Post it notes are also a really good idea if you need to learn pieces of information, I don’t use them so much anymore but when I was doing English literature last year I wrote quotes on them and stuck them around so I constantly saw them, which really helped.
Studyblr. This is a very werid suggestion and probably something you haven’t heard of, but studyblr is a group of people online that post photos about their revision and they usually have such pretty notes! It’s a strange concept but I love it and it really motivates me because I see them working so hard, and if I’m scrolling through my feed and one of their photos appears I always feel guilty that I aren’t being as productive! Even if it doesn’t motivate you, it is worth having a look just to see how they set out their notes as it is often helpful and I have learnt a lot from their revision advice. Just type ‘studyblr’ into any social media platform.
Calm down. This is the advice that I desperately need to take and work on, but it never seems to go well. As much as you want to achieve, you cannot sustain revising constantly and you need time for other activities as well. I find this so hard as like I have mentioned earlier I feel so guilty when I socialise with things still on my to do list. I do need to learn to relax a bit more and learn that it is not the end of the world. If you are like me and struggle with this, I would recommend using the rule of 8. There are 24 hours in a day, 8 hours you sleep, 8 hours you work (revision, classroom or a job) and 8 hours you have to relax and socialise. I would be lying if I say I always stick to it but it is in the back of my mind when I am planning my time.
Exams and education in general are stressful and it is often seen as inferior to other types of pressure (the amount of times I have heard ‘school is the best time of your life, you don’t know stress until you are in the real world’ is almost comical)… but stress is relative and you shouldn’t feel like you can’t share your worries because it is less than other people’s. Work hard, but try to make time for yourself and if you do feel stressed about education please talk about it with your friends as if they are similar ages they will probably feel the exact same way. Teachers can also be huge supports as they have seen the exam process time and time again, and they can provide advice as well as practical help in the form of extra worksheets or revision sessions etc. Teachers are humans too and as much as it is their job to push you, they also care about your wellbeing… my teachers have to put up with a lot from me (I get stressy a lot when I’m under pressure… I do feel sorry for my poor economics teacher!) and sometimes you just need someone to calm you down and put everything back into perspective.
Good luck if you are doing any exams in the coming weeks, I hope you do so well! I’m not sure of what use I am, but if anyone is taking the same AS levels as me (sociology, economics, business or economics) or the GCSE equivalent (business and geography GCSE) I am completely willing to send you some of my mindmaps and individual subject advice if you contact me, I am more than happy to help people out if needed as I know how hard they are!
Good luck! 🍀