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Exam Revision: Study Skills

Guide contents

Fast facts

  • You can look at past papers to help revise for your exams.
  • Try out different revision techniques, for example Active Revision or flashcards.
  • Make sure you are taking care of your health while revising.

Make a plan

Plan in good time!

Timetable: How much time have you got? What do you need to do? A week in hand: aim to have your revision completed by a week before your exams. This gives you:

  • Flexibility in case of illness
  • A chance to spend longer on something that proves difficult
  • A break before you sit your exams.

Be selective: What topics do you need to revise? How much time do they need?

Targets: Be realistic about the targets you set yourself, how much time you will need.

Balance: Aim for a balance between subjects you’re strong in and those which you’re less confident about.

Revision techniques

Active revision

  • It’s not enough just to re-read notes, make your revision active! Here’s how:
  • Have plenty of paper and a pen handy.
  • Study a section of your notes, and memorise the essential points.
  • Put your notes out of sight, and write down from memory the essential things you learned.
  • Check with your notes.
  • Note any points you omitted or got wrong, and learn them.


  • Reduce notes to essential points, either by highlighting or underlining.
  • Use these points to make memory aids on index cards or similar-sized pieces of paper.
  • Use a separate card for each topic.
  • Write down important points to remember about each topic.
  • Carry these cards with you wherever you go. Review them in your spare moments

Old exam papers

  • Look through old exam papers: make outline plans for the answers and note carefully the slight differences in how questions are asked from year to year.

Useful tips

Revision tips

  • Use your time well. Don’t try to do too much at once. Take a break from time to time in each study period.
  • Revise with other people sometimes; if you don’t feel that you’ve entirely grasped a topic, or don’t have any ‘new’ ideas on it, discussing it with other students can be helpful. This is especially useful for auditory learners.
  • Recognise the targets you have achieved. Mark your progress on your revision plan so that you can see what you are achieving.
  • Trust your memory. Once you know a subject thoroughly, move on to the next. Don’t keep checking your memory to see if it’s doing its job. It’s like a filing system, and it will produce what is required at the appropriate time.

Wellbeing tips

  • Try and eat a healthy, balanced diet! Take time out for meals; don’t try to work while you’re eating dinner.
  • Too much tea and coffee can increase your anxiety levels and induce insomnia. Caffeine tablets have the same effect.
  • Get some exercise! 20 minutes exercise 2-3 times a week will give you more stamina, help reduce stress and help you to sleep.
  • Don’t try to work through the night before an exam. Go to bed in good time and get as much sleep as you can.