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How to revise for January exams: a survival guide

Productivity not procrastination


The Christmas break is a time of simultaneous end-of-term relief, festive excitement and exam anxiety.

Whilst you may want to forget all about exams until term starts, leaving revision to the last minute can be extremely risky, not to mention stressful, spoiling your festive season.

To counter this, here are our top tips to help make your revision productive and efficient:

Make a revision schedule

Creating a schedule stating which tasks or areas you want to revise, and by what time you want to accomplish them, is a great way to tackle your revision.

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Not only will it help you to actually do revision, but it enables you to organise it around other plans you may have with friends and family.

When making your schedule, be careful not to ask too much of yourself; completing 10 tasks badly will leave you feeling deflated and less motivated than finishing five tasks well.

Make a list of daily tasks

Whilst this may not appeal to everyone, having a list of the tasks you want to complete each day alongside your revision schedule can significantly improve your motivation, as it allows you to see the work and progress you're making.

Ticking off things can also be quite satisfying and gives you a feeling of productivity.

Have a tidy work space

If you have a cluttered study area, your work – and brain – will reflect this. Maintaining a clear and organised work space will promote a more systematic and efficient style onto your revision, rather than a chaotic and haphazard one.

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Work smart, not hard

Its easier said than done, but make sure the revision you're doing is actually effective. Everyone revises differently, and it doesn't matter whether you do this through flashcards, colourful notes, mind maps, past papers, reciting information or a combination of these techniques, as long as it works for you.

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If you still don't know what style suits you best, try revising using one style and then testing yourself later to see how much information you retained.

Take plenty of breaks

Whilst some people may be able to work for hours and hours on end, there becomes a point where your revision stops being productive. Try limiting yourself to no more than two hours of study per topic, divided with 15 to 30 minute breaks.

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By taking time to refresh – grabbing a cup of coffee and a snack, or even going for a walk, your revision will be more varied, more interesting as well as more productive.

Put your phone down for once

Shortly followed by Netflix, your phone is probably the number one thing preventing you from being able to successfully revise. Although it may be difficult, removing your phone from your study space, putting it on do not disturb, or even in another room, will dramatically increase your productivity.

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Say goodbye to social media and hello to effective revision sessions.

Stay hydrated!

Although many students feel they 'need' coffee or energy drinks to boost productivity and fuel those early mornings, high amounts of caffeine can leave you feeling fatigued, agitated and nauseous – the opposite of its desired effects.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can alleviate these effects, providing the energy and motivation you want.

Eat and sleep well

Along with drinking lots of water, a balanced diet and a solid eight hours sleep each night will improve productivity and your general well-being, making you feel more motivated and enabling you to absorb more information and work more effectively.

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Keep a positive mental attitude

Think positively! Having a more positive attitude will not only boost your motivation and productivity when revising, but will keep you calm in the exam hall.

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Good luck!

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