18 top tips to help you nail those exams

Have you got exams looming? Revision is never fun and it can be easy to become stressed as the pressure mounts and the days count down.

We can’t guarantee you straight As or full marks, but if you take onboard at least a few of these revision tips you’ll be heading in the right direction. 

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1. Get a schedule

There’s no better starting point. Put any unavoidable commitments in a schedule, then allocate the time that’s left for revision.

Tasks will feel more manageable when divided into chunks. Then all you’ve got to do is stick to it.

2. Find your rhythm

Identify your most productive time and keep that free for revision. Some students find the best approach is to treat the task like a job and knuckle down between, say, 9am and 5pm. Others find they work best when the sun goes down.

Doing it this way will keep you focused – plus you get to switch off afterwards.

3. What works for you?

Establish what kind of learner you are. Do you learn best by looking at things, listening, reading and writing or by physically doing something? Once you know, use this to guide how you revise.

4. Ditch the distractions

The internet can be your friend and listening to webinars or watching YouTube videos can make a great change from sitting at a desk with your books or laptop.

It can also be your worst enemy. If need be, disable social media and distracting sites on your phone or laptop.

5. Take breaks

Little and often is a good adage. By little, we mean 10 minutes. By often, we mean once every hour.

6. Treat yourself

After a hard day’s revision, an episode of a box set, an hour walking the dogs or a horse ride will do you good. Exercise, particularly, can help you relax.

Stick to things that are containable though. Binge-watching the whole of season seven of Game of Thrones the day before an exam is not recommended.

7. Collaborate

Work with friends and test yourself on family members. Bounce ideas off other people, chat things through. Make up quizzes and make the process fun. Try not to worry how much revision your mates are doing.

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8. Voiceover

Record yourself reading revision notes then listen to them while doing something else. OK, repeatedly listening to your own voice can be a bit cringe, but it can help.

9. Bright idea

Write in lots of different colour pens to help split up revision notes. Also, take a few different sized pens into the exam so you can switch halfway through if your hand is cramping up and you’re struggling to write.

10. Grub up

All things in moderation, but here are two things that are good: bananas and water. Chocolate and caffeine, not so good. And you certainly don’t want to be going into an exam with a hangover.

11. Past papers

Do them. Lots of them.

12. Get some kip

If you’ve covered the ground, getting an early night and a decent bit of shut-eye the night before is worth its weight in gold.

13. Practical details

Check the start times of exams and make sure you know where the venue is and how long it’ll take you to get there. Do a practice run or leave yourself spare time.

14. Answer the question

It’s surprising how many people answer the question they want to answer, rather than the one they’re being asked. So read it repeatedly, underline key words and know what it’s really asking you.

15. Time management

Answering the questions you feel you know most about first will give you confidence, but don’t spend a disproportionately large amount of time on any one question.

Similarly, when you’re revising, of course you need to swot up on your weakest subjects, but don’t neglect your stronger topics.

If you’re applying for a college or university course, you don’t want to end up with the poorest grades in the subjects more relevant to your desired course.

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16. Don’t panic

Easier said than done, we know, but if you sense that horrible feeling descending on you, slow down and take a few deep breaths. It’ll be OK, you know this stuff.

17. Kill the post mortems

You’re out, it’s done, there’s no point in analysing it to the nth degree, maddeningly tempting as it can be.

18. Positive thinking

You’ve done your best. Now on to the next one. It’ll all be over soon.

Team effort

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who shared their exam revision tips, including @Country_JenT, @Lizhaines6, @pwhudson1, @RDP_Sarah, @willwilson100, @madsoutdoors and @aliceinwellies.

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