How To Get Through Exam Season: Revision Tips

Although for me the month of May brings my birthday, it also means the start of exam season. Now I am out of education, but I still remember all the hours of work, writing and stress that went into getting my GCSEs, A-Levels and my degree. For those who are still taking exams at whatever level, I thought in today's post, I would put together all the best revision tips that I was given over the years that really helped get me through. I have also asked some fellow bloggers for their advice, so hopefully there are tips and tricks to help everyone. Whether your exams are this month, or if you have got a little longer, I hope that you will be able to find something out of this post to help you.

Keeping Organised

Assign A Colour To Each Subject
I found assigning colours to each subject that I was revising (at all levels) was a great way to keep everything organised. For example, throughout the year it would be easier for me to keep track of what I had to do that week as I could see all the different colours. This then translated well when it came to exam season. I would have a coloured folder to keep all my revision notes, and kept it in the same colour as I had assigned it in my diary. 

I would then associate that subject, with the colour and it helped me keep track of all my notes and keeping them organised. 

Create A Timetable
Just like having a timetable for the school/academic year can help you keep track of where you are supposed to be, a revision timetable can help you keep track of your revision. Now obviously your timetable will be different depending on how many different subjects you need to revise for but having set times for each subject can make such a difference. 

Concentrating on one subject for a set time is a great way to revise, you are more likely to concentrate on what you are doing. Also, by revising other subjects in the same day helped me feel less overwhelmed by one topic but create your timetable on what works for you. 

Keep Everything Together
You do not need to be spending time running around trying to find that page of notes from a class three months ago, getting stressed out. Whenever you finish one subject, make sure you tidy it up and keep everything you need for that subject together. Whether that’s in an online folder if you prefer using a laptop, or just in a normal folder. Or both! 

Having everything you need for revising a subject together will make such a difference. It may sound like a very obvious thing to do, but I know from experience, revision can become a very messy business!

Getting Through Revision

Take Breaks
Everyone gets distracted. I know I do, and that’s ok. When I was doing my A-Levels back in 2012/2013, a great piece of advice that my mum gave me was to set a time for revising and taking breaks all done within an hour. Within that hour, I would spend 45 minutes revising, and then take a 15 minute break.

During the 45 minutes, I would put my phone on airplane mode (if that was what I was using for a time) and move away any other devices or things that could distract me. After the 45 minutes was up, I could go back on my phone, maybe get some food and just chill out. Then I would go back to my desk and start all over again.

Both my mum and I still use this technique today in the workplace, or at home when we just need to get things done. Having that set break time helped me get more work done and be less distracted. 

Drink Enough Water
Keep yourself hydrated! I know that when I am in a zone of concentration, I can often forget to get my water intake. Even now. I try to drink at least two litres of water a day, alongside other drinks and a big way I found to keep it up was to make a note of it. Whether you have a diary to track it, or even just draw four water-drops on some paper and colour it in after you have had 500ml (or a pint) of water. Whichever way, finding a way to encourage you to drink more water will have a beneficial impact on your life. 

Fuel the revision! Whenever I start to feel hungry, I can become distracted, wanting to focus on what I am going to eat rather than my work. As well as having proper meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I would recommend having a morning and afternoon snack. These snacks will tide you over until the next big meal, hopefully keeping you focused on revision. Obviously it is best if all the snacks are healthy like fruit, but don’t feel like you can’t occasionally treat yourself to something sweet – maybe as a reward for getting through a really hard practice paper, or getting though a subject you don’t like. 

My Top Revision Tips 
Mind Maps
After GCSES, I did mainly humanities subjects (History, English etc.) and when it comes to exams for these subjects, you often have to remember a lot of events, quotes and the people who said them. When it was getting close to the exam, I would put up mind-maps around my house (for example, on the way to the shower, on my bedroom door etc.) with the basic areas I could cover on a subject and go through in my head what I could write for that. 

You can use mind maps throughout your revision but for me, I found them best for quick ways to remember my facts. 

Writing and Re-Writing
Similarly to mind maps, I found writing and re-writing was a great way to help me remember topics, especially when doing essay questions. Start with writing paragraphs, and then keep re-writing, shortening the amount of words each time until you are left with the key words and points that will help you remember more. 

Start From The Back With The Longest Question First
When I was doing my History GCSE, my class were given this advice by our teacher and it changed how I did the rest of my essay-based exam papers. Allocation of time is extremely important in exams and you should spend the most amount of time on the questions that are longer and harder – often the ones at the back!

In my opinion, it is more important to spend less time on simple questions, then run out of time on the questions that carry the most marks.

My Top Revision Stationary

Pukka Pads - My absolute favourite notepad, I have had a Pukka Pad in my life since I stopped writing in the school books you were given!

Staedtler 334 Triplus Fineliners (20 Pack) - I used to own the 10 pack, but since buying the 20 pack, I would only recommend getting this one! There is a pen for every colour and even you are only studying a few subjects, you can use the different sets of colours to divide up your sub-topics. 

WHSmith Lever Arch Files - Sometimes, having A4 folders means they can get full very quickly, and an over-filled folder is hard to close without everything coming out. Although they are bigger, and you might not be able to carry them all at once, I found Lever Arch Folders were a lot easier to organise all my work. WH Smith has a great range of Lever Arch Folders, from plain to patterned!

Now there are so many different ways to revise and do your exams, I knew that I was not going to be able to think of everything. So I asked some fellow bloggers for their advice on revision and getting through exams!
  • Emma from Emma And 3: Be active in revision. Past exam questions are the best way and you can mark them using the mark schemes. All will be available online.  
  • Rebecca from My Girls And Me: Don't over work it! 20 minutes to an hour of revision a night otherwise your brain starts to forget. 
  • Jane from Lady Janey: Don't leave it all until the last minute. Create a clear structured revision plan with breaks built in so you can cover and revise all topics for each subject before the exam. 
  • Kerri from All Things Kerri: Write out your notes once on A4 paper, then again but summarise to A5  to eventually bullet pointing onto flash cards. Each time will help you retain the key facts. 
  • Charlene from Leesha Starr: I used post-it notes and left them around my room or in places I’d go. On the mirror so as you do your hair, you can read notes. Next to your toothbrush so you can read whilst brushing your teeth.
  • Ruth from Craft With Cartwright: I recorded my notes and listened to them. 
  • Emma from Fashion Mommy: As an ex teacher I always encouraged a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before exams. Tiredness and rumbling stomachs does nothing to help concentration. 
  • Abbey from Diary Of A Fibro Girl: I recorded myself reading out my notes so I could listen to them before bed, on the bus etc. I also colour co-ordinated my notes per subject. I gave myself daily targets of how many pages I would write, how long I would revise for, and I’d often find I would beat my target each day, which then made me feel so much better! 
  • Victoria from Our Life On Sea: When I was doing revision at school I remember finding different resources was helpful. There are lots of revision books for core subjects which break things down into small chunks. Resources like this keep you interested and help to reduce the boredom. 
  • Jenna from The Bloglancer: YouTube is your friend! As an ex-teacher I’d always point my students in the direction of it! If you’re revising English, Mr Bruff has some fantastic 10 and 20 minute videos on all of the exam questions. 
  • Amy from The Travel Fairies Blog: Depends on the subject but I used to watch documentaries as a break from normal revision. It gives you a break from writing but still means you are learning related stuff. It can even help you retain the information better if you're seeing it rather than reading. 
  • Rhi from Tsundoku Girl: I tried to turn key theories I needed to remember into silly acrostics (e.g. if you were trying to remember the right order for the colours of the rainbow, you could say Richard of York gave battle in vain (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). I'd make them silly and involving people I know so I'd think "I'm sure my mum had something to do with this theory" and then I'd remember that there was an M in it! 
  • Beth from BooksNest: I would make up songs for history timelines, I can still remember one of them quite a few years later! The rhyme and repetition worked well for my memory. 
  • Jo from Comfort Bites: I just did a post on healthy revision snacks - eating better definitely helps concentration I think! 
  • Katie from Away With Katie: Don't be afraid of taking a break! I would always take an hour or two out of the day to go for a walk, go to the gym or something else that I enjoy and that gave me time to refresh and not get too bogged down. Otherwise I got very stressed and wouldn't do anything for days on end besides trying to revise and I just think your brain needs that break! 
  • Elizabeth from El Stavo: My advice would 100% be making a time planner or organiser with dedicated study and revision days. I love colour coding things and using pretty stationary to help motivate me. I find practising mindfulness really helpful as well and the app Calm has helped me massively with study stress! 
  • Suzanne from And Another Ten Things: Don't check your answers after the exam - you can't change what you have written, and you'll end up stressing yourself out. Forget about the exam you have just done and focus on the next one. 
  • Abi from What Abigail Says: I used to write a glossary for each module or subject of key terms and their definitions, and create flash cards for key theorists and a two sentence summary of their theory. Really helped when being tested on the basics and then build on that with extra reading and detail! 
  • Emma from Bee Money Savvy: When attempting to remember something write it down and then say it out loud – you are more likely to remember something if you have seen it with your own eyes and heard it with your own ears! 
  • Elle from E L Feelgood’s Vintage: I would use index cards and write bullet points and read them out loud. I would also make up an acronym to help me remember too. Came up with some weird ones in my time! 
  • Charlotte from The Mummy Toolbox: Block out a time in your calendar and treat it like an appointment, business meeting or other commitment. That way, you are more likely to see it there and treat it seriously, finding actual time in your schedule, rather than saying "Oh I need to revise" and not trying to logistically make it work! 
  • Izzy from My Weekend Wanderlust: Teach someone else in a memorable place. For example, my friend had lots of dates to remember for her history exam, so we went into a supermarket and she taught me all the dates and we associated it with different aisles in the supermarket. That way it made it easier for her to recall it when she needed to as she just walked the ‘journey’ in her head. 
  • Ruth from Ruth Makes Money : Think about what your strategy will be once you sit down in front of the exam paper. With the stress of an exam situation, it's all too easy to go in and end up writing down everything you know about a subject, without really answering the question! Take your time to read through the question properly. I always then took around 5 minutes (depending on the length of the exam) to brainstorm my answer, the key points I wanted to cover, and the arguments I wanted to make. Once you've got everything out of your head, you can present it clearly and make sure that you're covering all the important points. 
  • Kamila from Kamz Online: For every revision topic, I change up the environment - location, position, smell, type of music etc. It's like a subconscious technique to help you remember things. For my literature exam, I revised each book in a different room in the house! And when I had multiple exams in one week, I used a different perfume for each subject revision, and then wore those exact scents for the exams. It's crazy how much it helped!  
                                      Now wasn't that a long post! My final thought on this post is to make sure you take on the tips that will work for you. Not everything works for everyone and that is ok!

                                      Thanks again to all the awesome bloggers for sharing their top tips - make sure to check out their blogs!

                                      And finally.. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE DOING EXAMS!

                                      Ellyn xx

                                      Check out my last post here!


                                      1. Some amazing tips. I wish i had these when i was doing my exams!

                                        1. You never know, I think many of these tips could be transferable to other things that happen in our lives! Or you could pass them on to your children!

                                          Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd


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