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Top tips for studying for exams

Apr 18, 2016

1. Get into the mindset

Start by considering your work environment. Bin random papers you no longer need and have a dedicated spot for all your work materials including highlighters, Post-its and have folders neatly labelled. Dedicate a notice board space for Post-it notes, schedules and a motivational quote or two.

2. Honestly reflect

What went well and more importantly, not so well in previous years? What are your strengths? What could have been improved? Were there gaps in your knowledge? Did you leave the revision until too late? It is only by engaging in honest assessment that you can make the necessary changes.

3. Plan a consistent approach

Use a consistent colour system to highlight dates so you can easily lift the information you may need to learn by rote later. Cue cards can be a very useful way to learn key facts. If you don’t fancy making them two great websites where you can find already made up cards are and

4. Monitor your starting point

Inspect your current level of knowledge by rag-rating your existing notes – highlighting green what you know, amber what you know a little and red what you don’t know at all. Fill in your knowledge gaps by revisiting topics and then check your understanding by talking it over with your teacher.

5. Be proactive, not passive

Be aware that re-reading large numbers of notes can be very time consuming with little pay-off. Work for short bursts on this activity, up to 40 minutes at a time. Make it an interactive rather than passive process by indicating in the margin where you are unsure.

6. Add tools to your learning kit

A great website to find out which type of learner you are is Don’t get too hung upon what type of learner you are but consider how you might use this information to maximise your learning. For example, if you have inclination towards being an auditory learner, a dictaphone may be useful to record information to replay before you fall asleep. Visit for more ideas.

7. Timing is key

Calculate – realistically – the time required for each task to be done and stick to the plan. Think carefully about what needs to be done in what order, numbering the tasks and ticking them off as you achieve them. Also, don’t peak too early: you may devise cue cards during the Easter break but you will not want to expend effort learning these until nearer the exam.

8. Master your schedule

Refer frequently to your revision schedule, keeping on top of what has been done and what is left to be completed.

9. Be kind to yourself

Revision cannot and should not take 12 hours a day. Decide when would be the best time for you to work. Plot time into your day for exercise and seeing friends but do not deviate from achieving your goals.

10. Evaluate progress towards goals

Keep a reflection journal – it takes five minutes to complete once a week, honestly! Use simple headers such as: What do I want to achieve? How am I going to do it? How did it go?


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