Students revising in library

Revising for exams

How and when to plan your revision and focus your studies for your best results

Many people find it useful to create a revision timetable to manage their notes and time.

This page covers the benefits of using a timetable, how to plan your time and use your notes, and has a timetable example.  

Creating a revision timetable

It's a good idea to create a revision timetable. They can help you to:


  • Focus on what you need to revise
  • Think about the time available before the exam
  • Reduce anxiety because you can see your planning and preparation
  • Discourage cramming (trying to revise everything in the last few nights before the exam), which is ineffective for most people, as well as stressful
  • Include time for recapping your notes

Recapping, summarising and reducing notes

Revisiting material is essential for moving information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. If this doesn’t happen, you'll find it difficult or even impossible to remember information.

Ideally, you should recap and summarise it periodically during, and at the end of a revision session. Recap and summarise again when you've completed revising a topic. You should then recap periodically, reviewing the material several times more as the exam approaches.

One key to this process is reducing your notes: reduce, reduce, reduce. You should move from your full notes, down to shortened versions, then shorten them again. You should end up with a diagram, chart, image, mindmap or brief bullet notes.

If you've engaged with the material when reducing and recapping it, then just a few minutes going over the shorter notes can make a big difference.

Design your revision timetable

It’s important to be flexible. Design them to suit how you work best and your preferences, but be realistic about what you can do effectively in the time available.

You might prefer to do a lot in a short period of time, but consider how well you'll remember the material, and understand it well enough to apply it – especially if the question is not exactly what you expected and revised for.

  1. Think about what time of day you concentrate best. Most people are either morning people, or ‘larks’, or evening people, or ‘owls’. Focus on the most difficult material during the best time of day for you.
  2. Consider how long each revision period should last. Some subjects may require more, while others may require less, for you to absorb the information.
  3. Consider how much time in total you should spend on each topic. It may be better to revise over a day or several days before moving on to a different topic; you might split it into parts of a day, such as morning for one and afternoon for another; or you might move quickly through several topics, one after the other.
  4. If you want longer revision sessions, break them down into identifiable ‘sections’ of specific points, themes, topics, or sub-points. For example, you might focus on knowledge, then recap and then take a break before working on its application.
  5. Remember to take time off. This helps the brain processes which are involved in understanding and memory. Give yourself some relaxation time between revision sessions and, if it’s a long session, during it. A whole day without revising can help recharge your batteries.

It's important to keep track of what you are revising for each topic. Keeping this together can help you see how much you need to do, and organise your time accordingly. It can also help ensure you don’t miss out key subjects and information. 

And remember – you probably won't stick to your timetable perfectly. Hardly anyone does, so don’t give up if this happens.

Revision sessions

 

Date Session 1: 10:30am-12:30pm Done Session 2: 14:00pm-16:00pm Done Session 3: 19:00pm-20:30pm Done
Monday Review Writing for Public Relations Proofreading Scripts
Main Press releases Short stories Autobiography
Tuesday Review Autobiography Press releases Proofreading
Main Script writing Print Media Contemporary media events

Download our revision sheet and timetable template 

Download this page as a PDF for your revision and timetable notes.

This template has space for six days to give you a whole day off each week. 

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