4 May 2023
How to Revise Effectively for Your University Exams
Exams are daunting. We know. We’ve all been there. We’ve undergone the nerves, the late-nights, the grinding study sessions. But we survived! And that’s exactly why we’re here, to show you that you can too.
The world is full of opportunities, waiting to be unlocked. But hard work and preparation are key if we want to achieve those all-important goals.
To help those of you who run for the hills each time exam season comes around, we’ve put together a list of our top ten tips to guide you through your revision journey…
1) Start planning early
Revision shouldn’t begin weeks or months before the exam itself, but from day one. That’s right. The moment you step through those lecture theatre doors and hear your professor delivering that corker of a presentation is the moment the work truly takes off.
Stress is a real thing and one that should be avoided at all costs. No-one wants to pull an all-nighter and have to zombie their way into an exam the following day having forgotten everything they’d ever learnt due to lack of sleep. That would be counterproductive and a huge disservice to your capabilities.
Instead, why not start by typing up your notes and filing them away after each seminar? You’ll be doing yourself a massive favour in the long-run when revision week crops up and you discover that you have everything you need – all in one place.
2) Use revision apps
There are lots of revision apps you can use to revise for your exams. Have a look at some of our favourites below.
3) Make a revision timetable
Revising without a schedule is like going to a picnic and forgetting the sandwiches. The two go hand in hand, much like timetables and exams.
Timetables are essentially calendars, but instead of birthdays and holidays, they map out the subjects and topics you need to cover on specific days.
One way to go about them is to dissect each topic into short, manageable chunks. This will give you an indication as to how long you should be spending on each individual module.
Remember to prioritise. Ask yourself what topics require your undivided attention and focus on those. Don’t cover an area just once. Go over it on a weekly basis so that it stays fresh in your mind in the run-up to the exam.
4) Do past papers
Past papers really are the crème de la crème of revision sessions. Going through them will give you an idea of the sorts of questions that will come up during the exam.
Exam boards, such as AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas, SQA and CCEA all offer past papers on their websites and are well worth looking at. Your lecturers will have access to them too, as will your university library.
Try answering the questions under timed conditions. In doing so, you’ll be able to pinpoint which areas you find most challenging and work through them accordingly.
5) Maintain your physical health
Exam success isn’t just about learning. It’s about looking after yourself, both physically and mentally, to ensure that you are ready to show the world what you’ve got.
While it may seem like a good idea to cram in all you can about Napoleon’s institutional reforms in post-revolutionary France, neglecting your wellbeing can seriously jeopardise your chances of bagging a high grade.
Studies show that you need at least seven hours of sleep each night to be on top of your game. Anything less will compromise your cognitive skills, resulting in you experiencing:
- A shorter attention span
- Difficulty solving problems
- Trouble memorising notes
- Chronic fatigue.
Caffeine is a huge contributor to anxiety too. Though coffee will keep you alert in the short-run, it shouldn’t become a ritual as it will stress you out more.
Chamomile tea is a brilliant alternative. Well-known for its sleep-inducing and immune-boosting properties, it’s a good one to take right before bed.
Another great way to stay productive is to do lots of exercise.
You may feel hesitant about wasting precious revision time getting sweaty, but experts from across the land will all tell you that exercise works wonders in reducing stress and helping your brain retain information.
Exercise looks different for everyone. Whether it’s walking, running or swimming, working out encourages our bodies to release endorphins. This can significantly improve our mood and make us feel positive about the day ahead.
7) Take regular breaks
Little but often is the way to go when it comes to revision, otherwise you’ll risk burnout (and nobody wants that).
By splitting your schedule into one-hour slots, you’ll give your brain the chance to recharge and refocus. And that’s exactly what you need to make your study sessions successful.
Use your break to make a drink, go for a walk or do some yoga. Do NOT watch TV or YouTube as you’ll only end up getting sucked in and – before you know it, you’ll be binging hundreds of episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
8) Teach your family and friends
One solid method of learning something is to teach it to others. Enlisting your course mates is a great place to start.
If there’s a module you’re particularly good at, this is your time to shine and make sure everyone knows their stuff. You could run through your summary notes, practice answering past papers or test each other on key facts and stats.
Alternatively, ask your parents to quiz you on your bright and colourful flashcards. Maybe even turn it into a family competition. RateMyPlacement.co.uk – making revision fun for the whole family!
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. While some may benefit from group study sessions, others will prefer to work independently… whether that’s recording voice memos or reading your revision notes over and over again.
9) Reward yourself
We know that revision can be tedious and all-consuming. That’s why you need to reward yourself as often as you can. This doesn’t mean hopping off to the Bahamas mid-term though (who even has the budget for this?).
But if you’ve smashed a past paper, you could take the evening off and spend it with friends, or treat yourself to a lie-in the very next day. Whatever floats your boat.
The most important thing is to maintain a work-life balance and ensure that you are protecting your mental and physical health. Everything else is history.
Remember: the greatest reward you can get is a cracking grade at the end of term.
10) Stay calm
Staying calm is vital if you want to ace your exams. Lots of people get nervous beforehand and that’s normal. Nerves are a sign that you care. What matters is how you control those last-minute jitters.
If you struggle with staying on top of things, try meditating. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and let go of everything, even if it’s just for a few moments.
If this doesn’t work, we recommend listening to some instrumental music. Ludovico Einaudi and Yiruma are firm favourites. Simple, yet otherworldly, their compositions will transport you to another dimension altogether and reset your energy levels for sure!
Well done for making it to the end. We hope you’ve found these tips useful and will be putting them into practice in no time. Best of luck for your exams. You’ll smash them.