I have just completed my first year exams at university and so thought sharing my revision techniques would be a good way to get back into my blog and record what worked for me ready to read back before next year begins. I have done a lot of research over the years trying to find the ‘best way’ to revise, however eventually I realised that it’s so personal that what works for some may not work for others. Even so, here is what works for me, not just in revision but also everyday life.
I have dyslexia which I find makes reading and memorising very challenging due to having problems with processing information. This means revision is highly daunting for me and takes a lot longer to fully learn certain information. A teacher once said to me that it takes that average child 3 times to learn something but with someone with learning difficulties, it take 9. At first I saw this as a bad thing, however it proved to myself how hard I had always worked and that I was fully deserving of my academic achievements. I will write more about my learning challenges and living with dyslexia in another post. But for now, here are my revision tips that work for me!
I always write notes on my laptop at university and find bullet points allow me to add extra information by indenting. This also keep me aware of how much information I am putting into each point and whether it is fully relevant. This can easily be used when writing by hand.
This simple way of noting any information can easily make you feel you have achieved more. When writing a job list like the first image, it is divided up more to keep motivation high. If writing academic notes, like the latter, you have a form of subheading so you know all the information is under that bullet point.
If you start revision by having your notes divided it saves lots of time as you don’t have to sort them. Easy!
Use ‘Forest’ app to reduce distraction
Forest is an app I was recommended by a friend to stop me using my phone during revision. It is brilliant and very simple to use! Simply put in the length of time you want to revise and plant a tree in your mini planet. Once it is planted, you cannot look at your phone otherwise it will kill the tree. By revising you also get coins which once you collect enough the app will plant a real tree. This is what I loved most about the app and really motivated me to use it often. Although this app is not free, the £1.99 price is worth it and apple users only need to purchase once in order to access on all devices.
This app is perfect for all of you who spend a little too long on their phones too!
This has been a game changer for me. By condensing my notes at the start I have to read through everything I have written and concentrate on what is important. It further means that I feel I have a lot less to revise and therefore revision seems a lot less scary. I often write the condensed notes on paper as this encourages me to really condense and not to copy and paste. Hand writing is also brilliant for learning and good practice for your exam where you may be having to write for a couple of hours, wherever possible I recommend handwriting for revision.
Often, this is my first time handwriting in a while and so my writing is not as neat as I like. Therefore, as a way to further condense and re-read, I type up these condensed notes. By repeating processes you are already starting to revise by creating revision materials!
These are a way to condense your notes further. As a history student I often use these for key dates, statistics and historian’s interpretations.
I create 2 sets:
I write the date on one side and the event on the other. This way I can test myself. I often chop up my cards to make them smaller as this saves paper and makes them easier to carry around with me. Any time where I have nothing to do for example the bus, I can get my cards out and revise!
I put all key dates on one card for a certain topic. On another I will put statistics etc. These I then get a friend or family member to test me on. By hearing the question and answering out loud I find I have to fully focus and it goes into my memory more. It also makes revising feel less lonely and you can see progress as you begin to get more correct.
Furthermore, using different coloured revision cards for different topics can help divide your revision rather than trying to learn all at once.
There is an online alternative for these, Quizlet, which is great for having on your phone and if you prefer online resources.
I often make these online on my laptop and then get the app for testing.
I think mindmaps are great in order to categorise revision. For subjects that you use themes, for example in history there is often economic, political and social themes, a mindmap with each theme can be so useful when planning essays and also seeing where you lack knowledge and need to read more on.
I start my mindmap in green ink with no notes. Then once I can think of nothing else I change to red ink and use my notes to add the information I forgot. This way I have a visual representation of my knowledge and the more times I do the mindmap, the more I can compare how far my revision has improved and therefore great for motivation.
I also use mindmaps to plan past paper questions in the same way, using 2 different coloured inks.
Take regular breaks and start revision early
Although it can seem silly starting revision so far in advance it is great for learning information and helping you feel prepared for exams. It also means you don’t beat yourself up over an ‘off’ day. Although I’m not the best at starting revision early I find that doing only 2 hours a day at the start with half an hour revision break in the middle can really be productive and reduce stress levels closer to the exam. You are also making sure you know the information a long time in advance rather than cramming last minute where it is easy to forget information.
Regular breaks are also important. I often set my revision to be around 45 minutes then up to 15 minutes break. I use these breaks to get snacks and also a cup of tea which I find a great thing to drink as I feel more relaxed and it gives my hands something to do while reading. I also try to get up early, get showered and dressed and make my bed before starting. I am also more awake by the time I sit down to revise. This means I feel I have been super productive and it’s only 9am! By revising early you can often feel you’ve done lots by lunch time and your life is not just revision as you have time to do other things in the afternoon/evening. It also means your body is used to being up early so you are not half asleep in your morning exam.
Regular exercise and eat healthy
If you feel good about yourself your work will be more productive. Sitting for hours can be really damaging for your body and so regular walks or exercise can stop you from hurting yourself from revising too long. I find walking after every 45 minutes really stretches me out and going to the gym makes me feel productive, alongside being great to reduce stress. For AS levels I sat too long and ended up damaging my back which had a great impact on exams as well as my mental health. I will write a blog post explaining all soon. But this has motivated me to look after my body first and let revision come second and I have found it has helped my productivity lots. Also it means my body is tired as well as my mind and so I can get a good nights rest making revision the next day more productive as I’m not spending my time yawning.
If not ready for a break, recording yourself reading the information can mean that you take your revision with you for a walk. You can stretch out whilst still revising. Amazing!
Drinking lots of water is also brilliant for your mind while revising and a great habit to get into for everyday life. While revising I try to drink between 3-4 litres of either tea or water. It has become habit to drink while doing work and it is perfect for me to stay focused. Adding a little squash also helps keep my energy up. If this seems a lot to drink then try 2 litres. I always drink 0.5 litres as soon as I wake up and this helps me feel refreshed and starts my day well.
I hope these revision tips have been useful. I am sure I’ve missed out many but these are what I use that I really feel have changed how I revise and made it more productive.