How To Study Effectively For Your Exams

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Are you seeing students up and down the country with their head in a book? Hearing them scream demands at parents? With their temper rising, blood boiling, and head-scratching; you know its exam season. This being the case, I compiled some of my revision tips to help you (and parents!) take a breath and study effectively:

1. Breathe - It’s near impossible to study when you’re stressed. Remember to take some time out from your revision schedule to relax with a book, play a game, listen to music, meditate or to do anything that you find a calming activity. Just make sure that you set yourself a time limit, so once relaxation is over, you can get straight back into revision. If you’re prone to going on your laptop or phone, maybe ask someone in your family or a friend to take your device and only give it back to you once you’ve finished a certain amount of study.

2. Stick to your revision timetable – If you haven’t already made a revision timetable, I could not recommend one enough. Ask your teacher if you don’t know exactly which exam you’re taking, and then go onto the relevant exam boards’ website (AQA, OCR, etc.) to find your complete syllabus – use this as a guide and tick them off once you’re confident in each topic. Your revision timetable can provide you with a visual guide of how far you’ve come, and to give you more peace of mind if you worry that you haven’t done enough. (As a side note, it is normal to worry about this, every single person experiences this at some point, you’ve done your best and that’s all you can do).

3. Be realistic – When I studied for my GCSEs, I thought that the more revision I did, the higher my grade would be. Because of this, I studied excessively throughout the day and didn’t give myself any breaks, and guess what? It didn’t pay off. My GCSE results consisted of mostly Bs with a few As, which aren’t bad at all, I am proud of them and they’re definitely nothing to be ashamed of. Yet I was expecting higher because of my excessive revision, yet back then, I didn’t understand the importance of taking a break. I since developed a better revision schedule for my A Levels which is so much more effective. It is so important to take breaks, for your mind to process the information in order to retain it and for your mental health. Set yourself limits of how much revision you can do in one day and be realistic and honest, and remember to give yourself plenty of time to relax.

4. What is your motivation? - It can be difficult to study when you’re really not feeling up to it. Try to work out what drives you to keep going, whether it’s as simple as your parents treating you to a new PlayStation at the end of your exams or whether you need your grades to go to your dream university or to achieve your dream career. Find something to focus on to encourage you to keep revising. They will be over soon, keep going.

5. Your study space – Where is your place you can sit down and give 100% of your attention to your work? Find your space, whether that’s your bedroom desk, the dining room table, your school library, a sunny field, wherever it is, just make sure that you’re ready to get working. Take away any possible distractions, including your phone and laptop (unless necessary for revision, and if possible turn off the internet!). Keep a bottle of water nearby and some snacks to resist the temptation to raid the fridge: get your head down and start working.

6. Past papers – Grab some past papers from your teacher or on your exam board’s website and make sure to test yourself. Also check out the examiner’s reports for previous year’s exams; they’re really helpful as they tell you exactly what the examiner is looking for in your answer and include some common little mistakes that can be easily avoided.

7. Identify your preferred style of learning – It is thought there are four main types of learning styles, find the one that suits you best and see if it works out for you. There are visual learners who like to study with using diagrams and colours, and therefore may be more suited to learning through colourful mind-maps, posters or flashcards. Interpersonal learners prefer studying or working with people, they might prefer roleplays, group projects, and studying with friends. Kinaesthetic learners prefer to work with their hands, and may prefer making models and moving their work around (e.g. matching flashcards together). Finally, there are intrapersonal learners who prefer to work alone, without distraction from others. Some people also prefer using music to study or teaching others what they have found in order to increase their own memory.

8. Consider your subjects – As my blog is literature-based, it’s important to remember that your revision methods and habits can change depending on which subject you’re studying. For example, English students may prefer to read their text book again, practice exam questions, etc. Whereas, if you were studying biology, you may prefer using flashcards or drawing diagrams.

9. Mix things up a bit – Who said revision has to be boring? Make it more exciting by adding colour to your notes, add funny doodles to remember information easier, put some sticky notes on your fridge, or your mirror, or your face, just make sure you see them – note, don’t walk into the exam room with a sticky note on your face, it’s not a good look.

10. Always bear in mind your health needs – Eat healthily, drink plenty of water and make sure that you have a good night’s sleep when revising, and especially the night before your exam. Also, your mental health is important too! If you find yourself struggling with stress or anxiety due to your exams, reach out to someone you trust (e.g. parent, friend, teacher) or contact your doctor to see if they can help.

Let me know if these helped you!

Good luck, Sophie x

Note: This picture belongs to Wix.

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