REVISING FOR EXAMS
How and when to plan your revision and focus your studies for your best results
Creating a revision timetable can help you keep on top of your notes and manage your time during your studies.
Creating a revision timetable
Revision timetables can help you:
- focus on the topics you need to revise
- see how much time you have before an exam
- see your planning and preparation
- reduce anxiety
- discourage cramming the night before an exam
- make the most of your time
Recapping, summarising and reducing notes
Revisiting your notes is essential to move information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. It's difficult to remember information if you've only heard it once.
Recap and summarise your notes while you revise and at the end of your revision session. Go over them again when you've finished revising a topic, and review the material several more times before the exam.
Reducing your notes and summarising important information will help you remember key points. Start with your full notes, reduce them, and then repeat the process. You should end up with a diagram, chart, image, mindmap or key list for each topic. You need to fully understand the material to reduce your notes properly. Once you have a reduced list you go over your notes a lot quicker as you revise.
Design your revision timetable
Build your revision timetable to suit how you work, your preferences and your other commitments. Be be realistic about what you can do effectively in the time you have, and make sure to schedule breaks and time away from your desk. If something isn't working for you, be flexible and considering changing it.
Start revising early. You might prefer to do a lot of revision in a short period of time but you'll struggle to remember and understand all of your material in your exam if you don't give yourself enough time. Understandings and being able to apply what you've learnt to new contexts is especially important if you get questions you weren't expecting.
Things to consider when planning your revision timetable:
- Think about what time of day you concentrate best and focus on the more difficult material at the best time of day for you.
- Consider how long your revision sessions should last – some subjects may require more time while others need less.
- Consider how much time in total you should spend on each topic – you may work better covering a topic over one day or several days, or you might prefer to split your day into sections and study more than one topic.
- Break longer revision sessions in identifiable ‘sections’ – for of specific points, themes, topics, or sub-points.
- Take time off – breaks help you stay alert and attentive, and improve your understanding and memory. Give yourself relaxation time between shorter revision sessions or during longer sessions.
- Track what you've revised for each topic to see how much still you need to do and make sure you've covered key subjects – this is useful when planning future revision sessions.
- You probably won't stick to your timetable perfectly – and that's okay. It may take some time to find a system that works for you, but keep going.
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.