A lazy students’ guide to revision

This is how you can cram more efficiently


It’s exam time again, and with dissertations finished and a few final deadlines left, virtually all the attention is now on the daunting task of revision. For some, this isn’t a problem and they are able work every day, for hours on end, in order to make sure they do their best in exams. However, there are many students out there (me included) with the world’s worst work ethic – we simply don’t want to revise.

Instead, we opt for the desperate last minute glance over notes and pray we can wing it in the exam. If you’re reading this and know you’re a lazy reviser, be honest with yourself and accept it. Now that’s out the way, here are five incredibly useful tips and tricks to help you get the best out of your revision within the limitations of your willingness to work.

1) Set out a basic plan, with realistic time periods

One of the most important things that you need to do to prepare for revision is establish when and what you need to study. Set aside an hour or so to look at your exam timetable and make a small calendar of how much time you want to spend studying every day up until your exams. Colour-coding your timetable is even more effective. This reveals if you are dedicating too much time to one module in comparison to others.

You can go one step further and set out exactly what time you will start revising. For example, “I will revise for my Nelson Mandela exam at 4:30pm next Tuesday for one hour”. By 4:30pm the desire to revise Nelson Mandela will be weak. You need to try your best just to push through. However if you are too repulsed by the idea, then move your revision time to 5pm. Just make sure you’ve completed your set amount of revision time for the day by the time you go to bed. If you need to, incorporate break days where you do absolutely no work and chill out instead. This is, however, not advised the day before an exam.

Plan of Action: This took me 5 minutes to make whilst writing this article and is the bare minimum you need

Plan of Action: This took me 5 minutes to make whilst writing this article and is the bare minimum you need

2) Work in short bursts (30:15)

Okay, let’s make it clear here. Revision is the most boring and tedious thing in the world. No one is excited by the idea. So the best way to counter that, especially if you struggle to find the motivation to revise in the first place, is to work in frequent, short bursts. We all have a friend who sits at their desk for 5 hours straight ploughing through pages and pages of notes and textbooks, in an attempt to cram. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like modern day torture to me. It’s much more effective to revise for 30 minutes, take a 15 minute break, then revise for 30 minutes and so on. It makes everything way more manageable and stops you dying of boredom.

Perfect Timing: Give yourself a set time frame to work in

Perfect Timing: Give yourself a set time frame to work in without getting bored

3) Ignore the hunger call – it’s probably an illusion

Step away from the cupboard! I don’t care what you think, you do not need to indulge in that Mars Bar right now. You aren’t hungry; you’re bored. It’s very easy  to trick yourself into thinking you are hungry as an excuse to step away from work and feed the hunger beast. Ignore it; you know that, in all honesty, you don’t need food. It’s nothing more than an illusion caused by the monotony of revision.

If you can’t control  the desire to eat, you have two options. Either don’t buy snack food and keep your cupboard as empty as possible, or bring some food up to your room before you start revising so it is there, ready for you to munch on while you’re studying.

Must resist temptation: It all looks so tasty, but you must not get distracted by food

Must resist temptation: It all looks so tasty, but you must not get distracted by food, unless you are literally aching from starvation

4) Remove all distractions (forcibly)

Revision or Netflix, revision or Netflix, revision or Netflix? You’re always going to pick Netflix. It’s easy to distract yourself with the temptations surrounding you, begging to be used, but this takes away precious revision time. So get it out of sight and out of mind as quickly as possible. You can download plug-ins which block websites, like StayFocusd.

Unplug your PlayStation, Xbox, tablet, etc., stick it in a box under your bed and don’t touch it until you have finished your exams.

Obviously you want these distractions during revision breaks, and if you can trust yourself to not touch them whilst trying to work, then leave them out for the most part.  But if the urge to play one more game of FIFA is too strong, then pack it up and get it as far away from you as possible. Out of sight, out of mind.

Goodbye old friend: As good as another mission of Halo sounds right now, just put it out of sight

Goodbye old friend: As good as another mission of Halo sounds, just put it away

5) Don’t go to the library – it’s not for everyone

You have probably been told a million times that the library is the best place to go revise, as it is free from distractions, offering silence and focus. IT’S A LIE! Firstly, it’s not as quiet as people suggest it is. Whilst it’s hardly blaring noise like a nightclub, there’s no deafening silence. There is a constant array of students shuffling around, rummaging through notes, sniffing and coughing,and disturbing the peace and tranquillity of your revision. Furthermore, if you’re working in short bursts,  what is there to do in the library during a break? You can hardly load up another GTA session of shooting people and running over hookers (don’t act like you’ve never done it) in the middle of the library. Well I guess you could try, but you will probably get a mention of the USTHTH page.

IT'S A TRAP: Whilst going to the library sounds right, don't be fooled

IT’S A TRAP: Whilst going to the library sounds like the right thing to do, it’s often a terrible idea

Finally, everyone in the library is in the exact same frame of mind: stressing about exams and revision. By placing everyone into one location just creates a real atmosphere of stress and tension and can make studying in the library really uncomfortable. Let’s not even get started on the temperature. So stay at home and revise, it’s easier to apply the tips and tricks from earlier on and it’s ultimately just a more relaxing and peaceful environment to do your revision.