Advice - How to revise for your exams

It has, once again, reached that dreaded time of the year where we students all have to take our exams. For some of us, it is GCSEs and, for others, it is A-Levels. For whatever exams you are taking, I will be sharing all of my revision methods and tips that, if followed correctly, will guarantee you a good grade! (If you are a 'leave-it-to-the-last-minute' kind of person, don't worry, there will be plenty of tips in here for you too!)
Don't stress! Grab a cup of tea and feel more at ease as you read through these handy revision tactics.


It is preferable that you start revising a few months before your first exam is due to take place but, we all know that not everyone does this! However, this does not mean you can not get the best grade. It all comes down to your attitude and dedication.


  1. When revising, have a bottle of water nearby because it will keep you hydrated and allow your brain to process information better.
  2. Do not revise for long periods of time all in one go. Allow yourself breaks after 20-60 minutes (depending how long it takes for you to get into it).
  3. If you like to listen to music when you revise, familiarise yourself with relaxing instrumental music like this before starting. It will keep you calm and there are no lyrics to distract you from the words in front of you. Do not introduce new music whilst you are revising because your brain will not recognise it and feel inclined to concentrate on processing that instead of your notes.
  4. Introducing a sensual stimulus to your revision is very effective. For instance, if you listen to a certain song when you revise science, after a while you will be able to recall information just by hearing the song. This could work with taste, smell and sight as well.
  5. Allocate times for each of your subjects. Do not spend too long revising one subject or you will start to grow bored and lose focus. I advise spending one hour on each subject maximum.
  6. Do not spend all of your time revising for your closest exams because it will all be one big panic to revise for the ones that follow.
  7. Turn your phone off when you are revising so that it will not tempt you to be distracted. Ask someone you trust to keep it from you until your revision time is up.
  8. Get plenty of sleep - around 8-10 hours every night - so you can focus properly (and not fall asleep in the exam!).
  9. Maintain a healthy diet so that you feel more energised when you are revising.
  10. Don't get yourself worked up. Be optimistic!

Revision Methods

1. Colourful Mindmaps

Making mindmaps is simple and effective as it allows you to organise your information in a clear and concise way.
    I created a mindmap on the unit of 'Why Russia Won' in
    WW2 against Nazi Germany. I split it up into smaller headings
    and then presented brief facts on each so that my information
    was clear. Colour coding was also very helpful here!
  • Make a mindmap for each topic you need to revise so that all of your information is not cluttered and confused. That way, you can branch off small headings in that topic.
  • Colour code your information. For example, for dates I needed to remember for my Russia history exam, I highlighted them in yellow. For statistics and figures, I highlighted them in green.
  • Avoid copying information straight from your textbook, simplify it as much as you can.
  • When reading through your notes, ask yourself: "Do I really need to include this? Being realistic, will I remember these tiny details during my exam?" Only write down the relevant information!

2. Cue Cards

There are ideal for summarising information and quickly going over your notes. Cue cards are good for when you want to speed up your revision.
    I made cue cards for my Tudor History exam. On one side, I
    wrote the year and then, on the other, I wrote what happened
    in that year
  • Write a theme, date or key word in big letters on one side of your cue card.
  • On the other side, write your key notes and definitions.
  • Test yourself or, even better, get someone - who is revising the same subject - to test you so that you can go on to test each other. Teaching someone else the information you need to learn is a very effective way of learning for yourself.

3. Posters

I would recommend only doing these if you still have a substantial amount of time before your exam. These are perfect for presenting your relevant information onto one A3/4 sheet of paper.
    Here, I am talking about the causes and occurences
    of the 1905 Revolution in Russia. I have structured it
    so that there are questions that are briefly answered
    in bold and then further details are in smaller writing.
  • I would advise using an A3 piece of paper because bigger, neatly presented information is easier for your brain to take in.
  • Separate your information with headings that ask key questions then briefly answer those questions.
  • Use pictures and colours if it will help you. Drawing may make revising more enjoyable for you and, if you draw symbols to help you memorise a fact, that is even better!

4. Twitter Conversations

Let's be honest, you probably get distracted by social media a lot of time whilst you are revising. We all do. So, why not make a fun and useful revision method out of it? Admittedly, no one ever forgets a juicy argument they've scrolled up and read on facebook; revision can work in the same way!
  • I created twitters for Stalin (@RealJosephStalin) and those
    who worked with them and then used the hashtag
    #CongressOfVictors to provide information about it in a
    very entertaining way!
    Draw a box on a piece of paper for your character to tweet.
  • Invent a memorable username for them. For example, I had to remember that Yagoda was second in command of the OGPU for my history exam so I made his username: @Yagoda_2OGPU.
  • Make up funny tweets amd hashtags about particular things that have happened and then create hilarious responses from other characters!
  • You can do this manually like I have or you can use this effective resource: Fakebook, which allows you to create very realistic Facebook profiles for your characters!

5. Podcasts and Documentaries

These will come in handy, particularly when you are not in the mood to be staring at textbooks and notes or after a long period of revision. Relax and take some time to listen to a podcast about your subject or watch a documentary.
Revise but relax a little as well!
Podcasts tend to be more brief and are good to listen to before you sleep. Documentaries are likely to fill you in on lots of additional details as well but that would be very beneficial to you because, when you come to write your answers in the exam, the examiner will look for originality in your writing and easily pick up if you have been doing your own research. So, take any vital notes if you can!

6. Practise Exam Papers

I can not stress how essential this is for your exam preparation. You could spend countless hours revising and still walk out of that exam barely scraping a pass if you have not attempted practise papers.
Don't panic! This is not the case for everyone and schools usually schedule for you to take mock exam papers at least once beforehand but this is of utmost importance, especially if you are doing A-Level exams.
Practise exam papers give you an idea of what to expect in the real exam and allow you to prepare how you will go about completing the paper and make improvements to your approach.
Practise makes a pass!
I would advise doing this more when you are getting closer to your exams.
  • Print out two practise papers for your subject.
  • Attempt one with a textbook handy to help you if you need it.
  • Take note of the topics you need to go over.
  • Attempt the second practise paper without any assistance and using the time allowed.
  • If it is a straight answer/factual kind of paper (eg: maths and science), mark and grade it yourself using the marking criteria for that paper, which can be found online.
  • If it is an essay type of paper (eg: english and history), take it to a teacher for them to mark and they will give ou constructive feedback.

Good luck!

Remember, you can only do your best in an exam and, if that is what you did, then you have no need to feel upset about how you did. These results will not determine the rest of your life. There are many alternative paths to get to where you want to be if all does not quite go to plan.


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