Revision and revision notes
You do not need to write everything down
If you read a 20 page book chapter, and make 20 pages of notes, you won’t be able to effectively review any of that information. Only record the most important information, and any additional thoughts or questions you have.
How should I revise?
There are many ways to revise, you'll need to discover what works for you. You’ll find that different techniques stimulate different parts of your brain, allowing you to concentrate for longer. Find out what suits you, but try not to experiment with too many new revision methods right before an exam.
When preparing for exams, have a clear idea about what the exam is testing you on. Knowing what to expect can help you to be confident about the exam, and will allow you to structure revision effectively.
There are a number of different note-taking techniques, and you may find it’s effective to use different techniques depending on the information you need to record. Different people will also prefer different styles of notes, it's important to find a method that suits you.
It is worth thinking about why you need to make notes. Most people would say you make notes to remember things. That’s true, but there are many other reasons: it might be to help you understand better, to record you original thoughts and ideas or to help organise and control information.
You can find more advice on taking notes on the Effective note-taking page of the Success Guide.
Examples of useful revision methods
Prepare a revision timetable
Plan out when you will study different topics based on your exam schedule. Allow time for breaks, and don’t let your planning time eat into your actual revision time.
Index cards, mind maps and consolidated notes
These can be used to record key points of interest. Use pictures, different colours, and highlighted sections to improve your retention.
Posters and visual aids
Use these to cover key points and topics, using colours and drawings where relevant. Stick them to a wall or door where you will see them often.
Key words, phrases, themes or concepts
Use a few key sentences to define what’s important to the subject you’re studying. Make sure that these key themes are at the heart of your revision.
Summary tables or charts
Charts or tables can be used to compare and evaluate different theories, people or arguments.
Teach someone else
Find a volunteer and try to teach them about your topic. This will help you approach the material from a different angle and spot the gaps in your knowledge.
Do test questions
Test yourself by doing some practice questions – past papers are useful for this. Go over your work to see how well you think you’ve answered the questions or get a friend to check it for you. Test questions also give you the opportunity to sit and write by hand for a long period of time – otherwise this is something you may not do until you get into the exam.
Review your material
Review your knowledge as you go along. Make sure you haven’t missed anything along the way, and if there’s anything you’re unsure of, make time to focus on that area again.
Keep calm and relax
When revising, don’t let yourself get too stressed. Leaving plenty of time for revision is the best way to achieve this – don’t try to cram everything into the night before the exam.
Sleep and eat well
Allow yourself time to relax, eat properly and sleep. You will function better in the exam if you’re not tired, hungry and grumpy. Having a good sleep the night before helps to improve your memory and strengthen your concentration