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Three ways to get more out of your revision

You can make your revision more effective without spending extra hours on it. Read these tips to find out how...

Identify your strengths and weaknesses
The areas of a subject that you're least confident in are usually the places where good revision can make the biggest differences. Work out what those areas are and make sure you concentrate on them more when you revise.

You can identify your strengths and weaknesses by:
  • Testing yourself
  • Talking to teachers or tutors about what you need to work on
  • Looking at where you have dropped marks on practice exams
  • Thinking back to what you have struggled with over your course
If you're really struggling with something, you might need to get extra help in that area: there's no point staring at your notes or attempting practice questions if you simply haven't wrapped your head around it yet. Ask teachers, tutors or fellow students if you need extra help.

Remember, you'll still need to revise the areas that you think you're strong on to make sure you’re fully prepared for the exam. Don’t miss things out of your revision but prioritize how you use your time.
Take a break
Schedule regular breaks during your revision. This could be 50 minutes of revision, followed by a 10 minute break. Exactly what schedule is best varies from person to person, but almost everyone will revise more effectively if they take regular breaks, for two main reasons.
  • You're less likely to get distracted while you are revising if you know you have a scheduled break coming up. It's much better to spend 50 minutes revising well and 10 minutes on a break than to spend a whole hour half revising and half playing with your phone.
  • Breaks actually make you work more effectively. After all that mental work, your brain needs a rest. Use your break for something relaxing and refreshing, but which won't distract you from getting back to work - ideally, something that involves getting up from where you're revising and moving around.
Remember that you have to work solidly until your break, so get rid of distractions like your phone while you're revising. You'll also need to work without breaks when you do practice exam papers if you want to be fully prepared for what the exam will be like.
Change your approach
By the third or fourth time you read through your notes, you're probably not really taking them in any more. Instead of doing the same thing over and over again, use different methods to revise the same material. This could include:
  • Getting someone to test you
  • Trying to explain the subject out loud to someone else
  • Making notes on the subject in a new format, such as a mind-map
  • Using flash cards to memorize information
Changing your approach doesn't just stop you getting bored: it helps you to remember the information in different ways, so you're more likely to be able to bring it to mind in the exam. Different approaches will work for different subjects and different people, so don't be afraid to experiment.
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