Most students shudder when they hear the word revision, but there are some really simple steps you can follow to make revision a little more palatable. We run various workshops on revision techniques and time-management skills, and find that there are some common issues which come up time and time again. This means that you’re definitely not the only one who struggles with getting your head in your books.
1. Mind over matter!
When it comes to revision, it really is mind over matter; having the right frame of mind is the key to success, and poor attitude is often listed as one of the main reasons for revision failure.
There is a lot riding on these exams: university offers, school-leaver jobs, gap-year plans; your future in general! There is no way around it, you need to revise – so acknowledge this and see it as a positive challenge. Approaching your revision as something beneficial, important and positive will not only help improve your grades, it will pave the way for a much brighter revision journey.
2. Bite-sized chunks
To be perfectly honest, trying to attack your revision in one full whack is pretty much lining yourself up for failure and disappointment! It will leave you feeling deflated, like you’re climbing Mount Everest without an end in sight.
Instead, break your revision into small sections: start by dividing up your subject into core topics, then find an order to revise them that suits you, such as from easiest to most difficult.
Chunking is great because it allows you to track your progression and you will feel a sense of achievement every time you complete a chunk.
Timetables are like marmite: you either love them and think they are the best thing since sliced bread, or you hate them and think they never work. I like them! I find that timetabling gives my revision a clear structure and I like that I can see an end in sight.
I usually start by adding all my social activities to the timetable first: football training, netball matches, volunteering, spending time with family and friends etc; whatever makes you happy. Timetabling is a great way for you to visualise those chunks we discussed in point two so add these into the timetable and feel free to break down the chunks even further if you wish. I also add a few free slots towards the end of the week to give myself extra time to cover the more difficult topics again.
Regular breaks are really important to give your mind some downtime, so build these into the timetable too. It’s crucial that your revision timetable works for to you, and to do this it must be realistic and flexible.
4. Control your family and friends
It sounds a little mean, but family and friends can be one of the biggest distractions when it comes to completing your revision. If you come from a big family you’ll definitely know about the woes of trying to find a quiet corner in your house in which to revise.
Sometimes it’s a case of sitting your family down and explaining just how important your exams are and why you need some quiet time. They will understand, and will hopefully give you the peace and quiet you need. If this doesn’t work, find a local library or speak to your teachers about revising at school. Ultimately, it is vital that you find a workspace that is comfortable.
Our advice for dealing with friends is to temporarily divorce them. Just kidding! Depending on your learning style, you might be someone who learns well through teaching others, so why not set up a study group with your friends where you exchange notes, set mini-tests and support each other? It can be very easy for a study group to turn into a general catch-up with your mates, so be sure to have some clear ground rules to keep you on-track, and keep revision and social time separate.
5. You’re not alone
No, this isn’t the start of a cheesy love song; it’s the best piece of advice I have been given about revision. There will be times when you will feel demotivated, overwhelmed and alone – but you need resist the temptation of throwing in the towel. Instead, if you’re not coping or you need extra support, then speak up and ask for help. Despite what you may think, your teachers are there to support you and have a duty of care towards your well-being; they want their students to succeed, and most will bend over backwards to offer extra lessons and revision classes. But they aren’t mind readers: you need to communicate if you are struggling so they can support you.
Revision is something which definitely gets easier as you progress; as topics begin to make sense and you begin to understand things better, your confidence will grow, so preserver. You can do it!
These are just a few words of wisdom, but we have plenty more to share. Pure Potential will be sharing plenty of useful advice on revision, UCAS applications and more over the coming months.