Exam Revision Techniques You HAVE to Try

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

When exam time approaches and you’ve been at the books for a while, it’s easy to get stuck in a revision rut. To stop this from happening, we thought we’d suggest a few revision techniques that really work. When you’re revising for days on end, it’s important to switch up your methods!
1. A seat per subject

It might sound slightly nuts, but assigning a different location to each subject you’re revising could work wonders for your memory. For example, if you like to revise at the dining room table, assign one chair to English, one to Maths, one to History and so on (this may be difficult if you’re revising a large range of topics, but you can always double up!). Then sit in the designated chair each time you revise that subject, so that you associate a certain space with a certain set of facts.

You might have to switch seats every hour – but many people find that studying, say, GCSE Maths past papers in one location, then switching to another for Biology, then another for Chemistry, can make a real difference. Not only are you making a point of stretching your legs, you are also putting into to practice a classic memorising technique – that of association. When you’re in the exam you can quickly put on the right ‘hat’ for the relevant subject, because you can visualise exactly where you sat when you revised it – and differentiate this place from the places you sat at when studying other subjects. Simple, but super effective.

2. Make visual notes

Whether you have an obviously photographic memory or not, there’s nothing like visual notes to jolt your memory in times of need in the exam.

Remember when we talked about the equipment you needed for revision? Well on our list were coloured pens and highlighters – which are IDEAL for making super visual mind maps and pages of notes.

Mind maps are an extremely effective resource, as you can link ideas and make associations. Make a clear, detailed and colour-coded mind map for key topics, which includes all the main concepts you need to know. Read it over plenty of times before your exam so that it’s committed to memory; then when you’re in there on the big day, any points you do remember (and the ones linked to them) should come back to you when you visualise the page, setting you off on a roll!


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3. Flash cards
Flash cards are an amazing way of testing your memory – and once written, you can test yourself and ask friends and family to test you too.
Whether it’s key facts or key words you need to remember, write the word or fact on one side, and the explanation on the other. You can then test yourself both ways – either by trying to recall what happened on that date by looking at the explanation, or trying to recall the explanation by looking at the date/keyword. Endless hours of revision fun, and a sure fire way to commit those key concepts to memory.
4. Condensing
Especially if your exam involves essay writing, you could have pages and pages of notes explaining the minutiae of certain topics. This is great, as it means you’re across all of the detail and will be able to write some really in-depth answers when you get to the exam.
Having said that, pages of notes can be hard to visualise, and even harder to remember word for word. Therefore a really valuable thing to do, having written your detailed notes, is to try condensing them into a far smaller space. An A4 page per topic would be ideal, but depending on the quantity of content, an A3 page may be more realistic for some topics. Present it however works best for you, but a mind map (as explained above) is a great option for condensing.
These condensed pages of notes make great crib sheets to take with you and quickly skim read right before you head into the exam, as a final reminder of key ideas. Best of luck!
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