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STUDY ABROAD : Once you arrive - Must read

How to revise for exams effectively

Preparing for exams can seem daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a good revision and study plan in place. We’ve got some good advice on how to design the best exam revision plan.

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We’ve all been there. That circled date on the calendar that looms large, the feeling of anxiety at the amount of work to be done and wondering whether you’re covering the right areas. Examinations, when you’re a student, can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. However, we’re here to help you reduce that stress. We’ve got some top tips, advice and guidance on how to revise for exams, including effective study techniques. Having a good exam revision strategy goes a long way to paving the way for your success. 


Design a study revision plan


First and foremost, it’s time to get organised. One of the best ways to do so is by creating a revision timetable that considers things like the dates of your exams, a daily routine, the areas you’ll focus on and when, as well the resources you’ll need. You could use a calendar, online doc or spreadsheet to design your plan. 


Decide how you’re going to revise. For example, do you prefer writing lots of notes or are you a fan of smaller succinct pieces of information that have been broken down from larger topics? There is also the small matter of whether revising using online resources and tools suits you better than traditional pen and paper. Pick what works for you and make sure you are comfortable. It’s a great idea to set yourself some goals and objectives as part of the plan as this will add to your sense of achievement as you make some key milestones along the way. 


You could get some inspiration from our top tips on how to prepare when studying abroad


Don’t leave it too late


Leaving revision to the last minute is something we have all been guilty of at one time or another. However, when it comes to exams it’s best to start earlier rather than later. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea. Firstly, you’ll probably feel a lot less stressed as a result which always helps. Secondly, you’ll have more time to engage with the material, review past papers and discover exactly what you’ll need to ace the exam. 


Trying to rush through topics and cram in as much as possible before an exam never works that well, as you’re likely not to retain much of the information. Thus, having a set routine for your studying that also leaves time for other activities is a good plan. The time of day when you study best may vary, but tackling topics when tired won’t serve you best. 


Stay on top of your mental health with our guide for international students


Decide how you will tackle topics


Choosing how you will tackle a topic is a crucial part of any good revision strategy. Sometimes with a subject, the amount you need to cover can seem vast and difficult to navigate. But, if you take some time to analyse how the syllabus you have studied was constructed and put together the structure becomes much clearer. You will be able to break things down into more manageable topics and sub-topics of varying levels of priority. 


Remember to consider the type of examination that you will be writing, is it essay-based or will you have to answer more focused shorter questions or even a multiple choice? For the former, often a characteristic of an academic degree, it’s very unlikely that you will need to have an intimate understanding of all facets of the syllabus or course, but more specific themes and topics would be appropriate. 


In cases where a broader knowledge base is needed, you will need to cover more ground but in less detail. This may be the case if you are studying for a professional degree. This is where your goals and timetable come into their own, guiding your priorities and energy towards the most critical areas. 


Explore how to find a degree or course that would best suit your personality


Stay focused and avoid distractions


It’s very easy to think of other things that you may want to be doing rather than revising for a big exam. Maybe it’s playing a game, checking social media or watching some episodes of your favourite show. While these are important to do to relax and have some downtime, removing these distractions can help you focus. You have a schedule and it’s important to stick to the time set aside for studying.


Some of the things that you do to reduce the temptation to stop revising and become distracted include:


  • Turning off your phone for a while 
  • Listening to music without lyrics 
  • Shutting down your laptop 
  • Studying in a room you don’t usually relax in
  • Finding a quiet spot 
  • Eating at regular times to stop you snacking


Discover more on how to stay productive and how to develop your skillset


Stay healthy


One of the most important elements of any study and revision regime is staying healthy. Looking after your wellbeing with a good diet, regular exercise and enough sleep are essential to ensuring that you succeed. 


Making sure that you have nutritious food and eat regularly means you can keep your energy levels consistent, which is beneficial for concentration. Carving out some time to get outdoors or work out will also make a big difference, it’ll provide a good chance to de-stress, helped by the release of endorphins that can lift your mood. Taking time out to sleep and rest is crucial in the maintenance of memory and your ability to focus. You can never really work well while feeling exhausted. 


Looking for some tips on how to stay active at home?


Keep your spirits up 


Remember, you’ve got this. You have your plan in place, with goals and milestones. You’re learning in a way that suits you, perhaps teaching someone else’s the content or setting tests for yourself. Don’t get stressed if you go off track occasionally or don’t meet all your goals, you can always correct your trajectory. 


There’s no right or wrong way to prepare, but some good guidelines to give you the architecture to optimise your chances. What’s most important is that you stay positive, relaxed, confident and realistic. If you make the effort, it will likely pay off in the long run. 


Now that you’re ready to take on those exams you may want to be interested in finding out more about how to prepare for other forms of study. Our guide to preparing for a PhD and making the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate can help you. Don’t forget that if you’re looking for motivation we also have information on the top 10 reasons to study abroad


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