Revision Strategies

Revision is as much a fact of student life as Fresher’s flu or there being at least one student wearing pyjamas in your 9am lecture. Despite this, it always seems to manage to creep up and leave you wondering how on earth you’re meant to do it! Well, have no fear, because we’ve compiled a handy guide of tips and tricks to give you some essential revision strategies and help you make the most of your revision time.


Exam Revision Strategies

The best thing to begin with is to work out the best exam revision strategies for you. There’s very little point in spending weeks using one method, only to find you barely remember anything, when you could have spent that time being efficient. So with that in mind - if any of these revision strategies don’t sound like they’d help, don’t do them and use the ones that do! Also, make sure you take a look at our general exam tips. These can apply to anyone, with any style of learning.

The easiest way to work out which revision strategies will work for you is to work out what kind of learner you are. Some universities have tests you can take, but if yours doesn’t, think about how you remember things. Are you terrible at remembering written words, but know the lyrics to a new song after hearing it once? You’re probably an audio-based learner. Do you forget anything you hear in a lecture, but the reading the textbook makes it easy? Best for you to use written revision strategies then. Do pictures help? Try visual learning methods. What about walking round, using hand gestures, being involved in something (like experiments). Then you’ll likely be kinaesthetic. This is of course a brief overview, and you may find a few of these helpful, or none - in which case, think about how you learn best out of exams and see what works for you. Of course, before you start revising properly, you need to make sure you're in the right frame of mind.

Here are some style-specific tips:

Audio Revision Strategies

  1. Associate certain music with certain topics, and stick to it. This way you’ll have a sound ‘trigger’ to get you in the right frame of mind.
  2. Rewrite the lyrics to your favourite piece of music to be about your revision topic.
  3. Record yourself (or get a friend with a lovely voice to do it!) reading your notes aloud, and then listen to them walking to university, cleaning, cooking, or any other activity you want to do!

Visual Revision Strategies

  1. Flash cards – write the question on one side, and the answers on the other. See how many you can learn, and maybe even get a friend to quiz you.
  2. Associate things with images, or diagrams. Even a flowchart of an answer can stick in your mind better than just text, sometimes.
  3. Use colour-coded notes.

Written Revision Strategies

  1. Write, write and rewrite your notes. See how concise you can make them whilst still retaining all of the information.
  2. Flash cards – they’re efficient for both writing and visual learners.
  3. Handwrite your notes. Often, it’s the act of writing itself that can help with memory, and typing doesn’t always have the same effect.

Kinesthetic Revision Strategies

  1. Revise whilst doing something else – walk around your room, doodle or hold a conversation with yourself.
  2. Alternate where you learn – perhaps associate certain locations to certain topics.
  3. Make things – diagrams, or models. Ensuring you are active is the best way to learn if this is your learning style!

Use your exam revision time efficiently

  Now you’ve figured out your most effective exam revision strategies, you need to be able to utilise them to their fullest extent. Don’t make the same mistake a lot of students do and think that cramming for 24 hours straight is the best way! Breaks are important, and you need to find your optimum work-to-break ratio. For many people, this’ll be around 40 minutes work to 20 minutes break. Doing this will help keep your mind active, and you won’t end up reading the same sentence four times without noticing. If you struggle with organising your time, we’ve got a whole list of tools that can help you and a bunch of helpful apps.

Don’t spend too much time organising, of course – we don’t want to spend weeks on a revision timetable, but then only spend a day actually following it! Do enough that you have a plan to stick to, and then stop procrastinating (yes, we all do it) and get on revising.


Now, here’s a very important and serious tip: don’t trick yourself into revising what you already know. Yes, it’s rewarding to feel like you’re succeeding at revision, and perhaps allow yourself an hour or two a day to go back over what you’re confident at already, but don’t only do this. You want to find the things you’re not sure of, and get better at them. One good way to do this is to look at past examples, and find the questions you think you’d struggle to tackle, and then revise around that.

For more information on exams, please do see our advice section. In the meantime, remember: it’s never too early to start revising, and the sooner you know the best exam revision strategies for you, the sooner you can revise efficiently.

Good luck!


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