how to boost your productivity when revising

Productive revision sessions are the most effective revision sessions. Here, we share 8, easy-to-follow best practice tips for completing your revision more efficiently.

Revising for exams may not be the most favourite thing on your ‘to do’ list, but it’s crucial for helping make sure you get your qualifications under your belt. 

You’ll no doubt remember from your school days that we all learn differently. Some people instantly grasp things or need to re-read information before it sinks in. While others are more visual or practical learners. Some are even fortunate enough to only have to read or be told about something once before grasping it right away. 

Revision is a necessity for avoiding exam failure, but when you’ve got multiple things to factor in at the same, such as, work and a family, it can be difficult to find the time to do it. To help you overcome this common challenge, here are 8 best practice tips for maximising your productivity when revising. 

best practice tips for getting your revision done more efficiently   

start with reflection  

Once an exam’s over and you’ve got your results, it’s natural for 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 the 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. For instance, you may want to ask yourself, ‘what aspects did I do well in? Where did I struggle? Did I have any information gaps? It’s an incredibly valuable exercise you can do in just a matter of minutes. 

plan your time  

As obvious as it may sound, good time planning is central to making sure you revise everything you want and need to revise for your exam. 

Think about how much time you realistically have to dedicate to revising between now and your exam. Be strict with yourself too, schedule out actual chunks of time, not a few minutes here and there, and make sure you stick to them. Another obvious point - the sooner you start your revision, the more likely you are to complete it in time with minimal stress. 

recap on 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, close your book or laptop, and then get a piece of paper and pen and draw out two columns. Use them to identify:  

  • what you know. 
  • what you’re not sure of/need to concentrate on. 

be realistic 

Cramming in too much revision within unrealistic timescales will only make you feel extremely stressed. It will also lead to you not completing all of your revision in time.  

The key to productive revision is fully understanding the scale of the task ahead of you. While you’re following the pointers in tip number 2, also consider how many topics you have to learn and then break the information down into manageable sections. From that point, you should then be able to calculate how much you’ve got to revise against how many days/hours you’ve given yourself to do it. 

consider your environment  

You may revise best when you’re in complete silence or you may find listening to calming music or tuning into Lo-Fi white noise, which can help support your state of flow, gets you in the revision zone. 

When it comes to your revision surroundings, having a clutter-free space and a door you can close behind you to shut out wider noise and distractions, is really important too. You may find looking out of a window or at a wall helps you focus. Or you may revise better when sat at a desk or on a sofa. What’s happening around you can really influence your revision, so make sure you give it some thought. 

summarise your learnings 

A really effective way of getting something to sink in is by saying it out loud and then writing it down. 

Summarise the information into half a page of writing, then keep going over it. Once you think you’ve retained it, reduce it down even further by writing in on something smaller, such as a flash card. Once you’ve nailed the flash card, then condense your learnings down to sticky notes and dot them around your house or revision space for useful revision prompts. 

test yourself  

The entire revision process involves testing yourself; your memory in particular. 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, don’t look at your books or notes (as much as you’d like to). While it may be frustrating to still not remember certain things, testing yourself will immediately show you what you know and what you need to spend more time learning. 

practice to perfection 

When you’re at the stage where you feel your revision is complete, make sure you can apply your knowledge to what you’re inevitable going to be asked. 

You can easily do this by completing past papers and answering practice questions. While you won’t be asked these questions in your exam, you’ll no doubt have to focus on the same or similar topics. And if you’ve identified what those topics are, then you should hopefully be able to confidently answer your new exam questions. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to revising, but there are plenty of tactics you can follow, like those listed above, to help perfect how well you do on exam day.  

Do you keep putting your revision off for another day? This article can help you get started, ‘How to stop procrastinating and improve your revision.’  

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