Graduates & Students

Exam revision top tips

Exam season at university often brings back ghosts of exams past, and many of us fall into bad habits, or struggle to focus. However that doesn’t have to be the case. One of ScotGrad’s programme managers, Kelly Barbour, shares her top tips to improve your revision.

Published: 13/03/2017

Plan your day

Make sure you give yourself sufficient time to study the topics you need in enough detail. Set out a plan of how you like to work. It might not look anything like your friends’, but it doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you. Break up your day into manageable chunks of 30 minutes or an hour and try to balance out your time between subjects and topics. Although very few of us enjoy getting up early, make the most of your days by becoming an early bird. Fewer social events tend to happen in the morning, so by using that time for revision and freeing up your evenings, you’ll concentrate more on the job at hand than worrying about what you’re missing out on.

Make space for work

Everybody has different places they like to study, but the key is to find somewhere that you are comfortable. For some people, it might be in a group study room at the university library, others might choose the comfort of a parent’s home. Wherever you like to study, make sure you have plenty of space and that you won’t be easily distracted.

Take a break

Even the sharpest of minds get tired and need a break to reset. Famously, Charles Dickens would get up early and write frantically until 2pm when he would stop and give his brain time to recover. You should use breaks sparingly and as a reward for an achievement. Do something constructive with your time: take a walk to get some fresh air, go to the gym to get your blood pumping or perk up with a coffee.

Ask for help

If there’s a problem or a topic that you’re stuck on and simply can’t get past, don’t gloss over it praying it doesn’t come up in an exam. Ask your tutor, lecturer or course mates for help. Everybody wants you to do well, so will do what they can to support you. You can also track your progress by getting a friend or family member to quiz you on a topic to show what you know and areas you might need to brush up on.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Many students feel the pressure of exams acutely, manifesting itself as stress, anxiety or even depression. Although it’s important to work hard, by having a plan, taking breaks and knowing when to seek help, you can avoid burning out. There are a range of websites that provide practical advice and guidance for students struggling to cope at exam time: Student Minds (the UK’s student mental health charity), BBC Radio 1, and the NHS all provide expert advice. You can also speak to counsellors at your university or college for support.