Revision Tips to Reduce Stress

Preparing for exams can be a stressful and daunting time, whether you’re at uni or studying for professional qualifications. But revising doesn’t have to be something you dread. We have put together some revision tips to improve productivity and ease the worry of the exams period.
Woman revising looking stressed

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Firstly, think about which environment works best for your revision style:


Find the right place to revise

This might be different for everyone. Perhaps you work best in a quiet space such as a library. Or maybe having other people around, like in a café, helps you stay focused. Or you might work best in your bedroom with some music on.
Wherever you choose to do your revision, it’s important to have a clear, neat workspace with everything you need to hand, such as laptop and charger, notebooks, pens, sticky notes, water, snacks, etc. If you find yourself easily distracted by things like your phone, try and keep them away from your study space.


Find the right time of day

Whether you are an early riser or a night owl, try to work when you feel at your most productive. Whichever time of day works best, creating a revision timetable can help you stay on track.
If you are struggling to concentrate for long periods of time, try the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes studying followed by a five minute break, giving yourself a longer break after four sessions. It’s best not to just keep revising until you are exhausted – you won’t be able to absorb much information when you are tired.


Find the right people

If you prefer revising with others, make sure they are people who help you focus and stay motivated – and that might not be your friends. Perhaps go to revision classes if they are on offer. They have many benefits, including providing structure for your revision.  Teachers and lecturers can help answer your questions and groom discussions, which will help you understand ideas – plus we  often recall conversations easier than written text.


Find revision techniques that suit how you learn

Everybody’s brain works differently and we all apply a mixture of techniques for learning. Think about which learning styles resonate most with you, as this will determine which revision methods could be most effective. For example, if you’re a visual learner, you could benefit from writing notes, or using flash cards and diagrams. If you learn well through listening and speaking, try reading your notes aloud, listen to tutorials or record yourself reading key points. If you are an ‘active’ learner who enjoys demonstrations or practical experiments, try group discussions, or move around as you revise. Many of us benefit from a combination of techniques.


 Ideas for revision techniques

(They get progressively more creative!)
Practice papers
Mock exams help you get used to the exam style and how questions are worded. Practise working to the exam time and learn from your mistakes. Get them marked by someone else.
Flash cards
Writing out your notes concisely on flashcards works especially well for memorising things like dates, definitions and case studies. You can carry these cards around with you and practise when you have spare time.
Mind maps
They can help you make associations between different ideas and theories, and organise your thoughts.
Read, cover, repeat
Rewrite things
Stick sticky notes around the house
Try and teach someone else
Explaining different topics and ideas to others can help you get a greater understanding of the subject, as well as help you remember it.
Revise for different things in different places
If you can imagine yourself in the place you were when you revised for a particular subject, you may find it easier to recall the information.
Voice notes
Record yourself reading your notes on your phone and listen in the gym, on the train or as you are falling asleep.
Say things you are struggling to remember in different accents.
Move your body
Associate movements with facts.
Also, exercise releases endorphins, which has been shown to improve memory retention and boost our brain-building hormones.
The most important thing is to look after yourself, eat well, get as much sleep as you can, reward yourself to stay motivated. And don’t be too hard on yourself!


Find out more:

Revision techniques & memory – University of Portsmouth
Stress Busters – Stress Survival Guide (Part 3)