Revision tips for exams | Varsity Education

Revision tips for exams

Whether you’ve had your mocks or you’re preparing for the real thing. Perhaps you’re feeling confident, or you might be feeling nervous wondering if you’ve prepared enough.

Some of you will be in full swing of revision by now and will already have a system of when to study, how often and for how long.  But what about everyone else? How do you prepare for the real thing?  We’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for your finals from revision through to getting your results.

Before the exam

  • Everyone’s brain works differently and we don’t all learn in the same way, so it follows that you’ll need to find a way that works for you to retain information. For some it’s visual so mind maps are great, for others it may help to record voice memos instead of writing physical notes. Whatever works for you best whether it’s one method or a combination, do what works best for you.
  • Review past papers, think about which areas in your mocks you struggled with and which parts came easy. Focus your revision on the areas you feel you could have done better at, but don’t forget to review what you were comfortable with too so that it all stays fresh in your head.
  • Plan your revision schedule – don’t hit your peak too early as it can be hard to keep that level of momentum for long.

Mind maps can help with revision

Study breaks can help with concentration levels

  • Take a look on forums like – there are plenty of other people studying the same things as you so why not help each other? You may find getting feedback from others helps.
  • Stop revising – It may sound counter-intuitive but it makes sense. If you overload on one subject and your mind starts to go blank, switch to another one or take a 20-30 minute break and relax. There’s no point trying to fight against yourself if your brain’s already overloaded.
  • Stop procrastinating- OK, so your room is now tidier than it’s been since mum stopped picking up after you, but as much as a clear space may make it easier to concentrate, it’s no good if you don’t actually sit down and study. There will always be other things you could be doing that are more interesting than revision – it’s amazing how colour coding your wardrobe can become a fascinating task – but being disciplined now will pay off later.

The day of the exam

  • First things first, get a good night’s sleep.
  •  Before the exam starts, get a good breakfast, something nutritious that will keep you going rather than sugary snacks – save those for the exam itself if you get an energy dip.
  •  Resist the temptation to talk to friends about the exam as this is likely to undermine your confidence and make you lose track of the information you know you need to be concentrating on.

During the exam

Work out how much time you’ll spend on each question at the start of the exam

  • Put your pen down. Read the entire paper first, checking that you haven’t missed a page (especially the final one).
  • Manage your time – it can help to take five minutes at the start of the exam to work out how much time to spend on each section – that way you don’t end up spending half your time on one question before realising you’ve still got four more to go.
  • Panicking will not help you, but if panic does set in, take a minute to calm down, have a drink of water, have a snack or just concentrate on slowing your breathing for ten breaths before starting again.
  • Leave five to ten minutes at the end to thoroughly reread all your answers and edit where necessary.
  • Underline key words on the questions, these will help you focus.
  • Plan your time, decide whether you’re going to work on questions you’re most comfortable with first and the harder ones later – but make sure you don’t miss any out!
  • Answer the question you are asked, not one you were wishing to be asked. Don’t panic if none of the questions you were expecting come up, use critical thinking to adapt the knowledge you do have, as long as it answers the question.

What to do afterwards

Relax. You survived. Again, resist the temptation to discuss the exam with your friends. This is counterproductive as it will only cause stress over something that can’t be changed. Once the exams are over there’s no point in worrying about results day – it’s a long way off and you may well be worrying needlessly. Instead start investigating other ways you can increase your chances of getting into your university of choice. Look into volunteering your time over the summer or have a look the summer school preparatory courses available including the Varsity Education college courses. Our summer programmes will help you get over the next hurdle of the university admissions process. Our tutors will teach you vital interview skills as well as giving you a taste of what life would be like at top universities like Oxford or Cambridge. Get in touch today and we’ll help you to reach that goal of entering a prestigious university.