Skills for Learning

Revision & Exams

Overview

If you feel daunted or stressed at the prospect of exams, you’re not alone. Careful planning and revision can help you prepare for success.  

Plan ahead

Plan your time and fight procrastination 

  1. Break down each exam into potential topics you need to revise. Then, work out how much time you have to prepare before the exam. 

  1. Create a timetable on paper or online. Dedicate time to each topic area and avoid leaving any of them until the last minute.  

  1. Remember to leave time for relaxation and healthy activities, too. Exercise improves concentration and energy levels, and sleep helps your brain process and retain information. 

  1. Set yourself clear, realistic objectives and assess your progress on a regular basis – for example, by writing daily ‘To Do’ lists. This can help you avoid procrastination and stay on track.  

  1. If procrastination is an obstacle, you can use website blockers such as Cold Turkey or StayFocusd to block social media. The Pomodoro technique is an effective way of ‘chunking’ your time. It can help you stay on task, whilst giving you regular short breaks. Download the Pomodoro Timetable Worksheet from our Resources & Worksheets to help you.

Use your lecture notes and past papers to help you prepare 

  1. You can find past papers on your module pages. If you can’t find any examples, ask your tutor if there are any available. 

  1. Familiarise yourself with the format of the exam. How much is each question worth? How will this affect the way you approach the questions and how long you spend on them? 

  1. Brainstorm plans for as many essay questions as possible. You don’t have to write them all out at length. Download the Understanding Assignment Questions Worksheet from our Resources & Worksheets to help you.

Revise creatively

Try to avoid hours in front of a screen simply reading. Effective revision is an active process: take notes, re-organise information, draw links between ideas and test yourself. A creative approach to revision will help you retain information and think quickly in the exam. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use mind maps to summarise key ideas and draw connections between them. 

  1. Create a timeline to track progression over time or use a flow chart to map a process. 

  1. Make a table to help you compare different themes at a glance. 

  1. If you have specific bits of information to remember (e.g. dates, theories, names), test yourself with flashcards.

  1. Colour can be a really useful tool: it stimulates the brain and can help you categorise information (e.g. through colour coding). 

  1. Teaching others is a great way to clarify thoughts and commit information to memory. Get together with friends to discuss ideas, share notes and test each other.