how to stop procrastinating when revising

Do you keep putting off your revision for another day? That’ll be procrastination getting the better of you! Here's how to tackle exam revision procrastination head on.

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Learning how to stop procrastinating while studying is the key to successful revision. Given the huge number of ICAEW members and ACA students we support during stressful exam times, we understand the pressure you're under and are here to help. 

what is procrastination? 

Procrastination doesn’t just apply to revision, but all aspects of our professional and personal life. In a nutshell, it’s the act of putting off tasks. According to research carried out by the US psychologist Piers Steel, 80% to 95% of college students procrastinate, particularly in relation to completing coursework.

It's important to remember you're not alone if you're struggling to concentrate when revising.

how to prevent revision procrastination

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stop wasting time

Putting off revision only means you'll wind up with more pressure on yourself. The sooner you take action, the less daunting the task will become and the less anxious you'll feel.

If needs be, start small; the main thing is that you make a start.


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eat those frogs

This is a simple method that we can all use to avoid falling into the procrastination trap.

If there’s a part of your revision you're putting off, you should go ahead and eat those frogs first, otherwise they’ll end up eating you because you’ll be procrastinating all day about them.


set achievable goals

Giving yourself mountains of revision to do in an unrealistic timeframe is counterproductive. Take a practical approach by identifying what you need to learn and how long you have to learn it.

After this, you can break it down into more manageable blocks.



prevent distractions

Distractions are everywhere, even more so if you’re stuck in procrastination mode! If you live in a busy household, take yourself away into a room where you can shut the door and focus.

If that’s not possible, consider revising somewhere quiet, for example your local library.

6 tips for efficient revision

start with reflection

Once an exam’s over and you’ve got your results, it’s natural to immediately want to forget about it, especially if you’ve passed. 

But before you put the exam and all of your learnings to the back of your brain, take time to reflect on your performance. If you have more exams to take, analysing your previous exams can help shape how well you do going forward. 

plan your time

As obvious as it may sound, good time planning is key to ensuring exam success. Think about how much time you realistically have to dedicate to revising between now and your exam. By scheduling chunks of time rather than a few minutes here and there, you'll be more likely to stick to your schedule.

Another obvious point - the sooner you start your revision, the more likely you are to complete it in time with minimal stress. 

recap your revision

Repeatedly recapping what you’ve learnt is essential when it comes revising. It not only applies to past exam performance, but it should also be built into all of your revision sessions. 

At the end of each revision session, draw two columns and record what you know and what you're still not sure of.

be realistic

Cramming in too much revision in a short space of time will only leave you feeling extremely stressed. This will also lead to you not completing all of your revision in time.

While you’re scheduling in chunks of time to concentrate on revision, also consider how many topics you have to learn and then break the information down into manageable sections. 

test yourself

When you’re at the stage where you’ve revised all of your topics and have streamlined them down into smaller prompts that you can easily recall, that’s the time to start testing yourself. 

When you’re doing this, it's important to avoid looking at your books or notes so you can figure out where your information gaps are.

use past papers

Completing past papers is a great way to get in the right mindframe for an exam. While you won't be asked these questions in your exam, you'll no doubt have similar topics so you can get used to the types of questions you'll be asked as well as the timeframe you'll have to complete them. This will make you feel more prepared for the real exam.

“I found myself staring at my screen for long periods of time unable to work and therefore not being as productive as I could have been.“


caba client

how we can help

It’s possible to overthink something to the degree that it consumes you. It’s easy to feel this way about revising, especially if you’ve not done it for a while and aren’t sure about the best the way to approach it. Our helpful advisors can help you access emotional support, career or personal coaching to ensure you’re on the right track.

contact us


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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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