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Revision Tips & Guide - A Level & GCSE Exams

When you’re preparing for GCSE, AS or A2 exams, sometimes it seems like you can’t move for revision tips. And while most of the tips for revision you get offered are well-intentioned, it can be hard to pick out the useful ones.

To help you get off to on the right foot with your revision, we've created these useful revision tips. They are equally valid for GCSE, AS and A2 exams.

Revision tip one: Plan your revision

It’s important to take a structured approach to exam revision, because it means you can be sure of covering everything you need in the time available.

People who do not plan their revision often end up spending most of their time covering areas they already know well. A proper revision plan will help you focus revision on the subject areas you really need to cover:

  • When creating your revision plan, work backwards from the date of your first exam. Plan to revise for six weeks or so.
  • Allocate more time to tricky subjects and areas you don’t know well. These will have the biggest impact on your eventual results.
  • Be realistic when creating a timetable. You can’t spend every minute revising – build in time for breaks and other commitments too.
  • Stick your revision timetable up somewhere and tell your friends and family about it so they can help you focus on sticking to your plan.

Revision tip two: Create the right environment

We know the importance of a good study environment, which is why we take great care to create an effective environment for our revision courses. When you revise at home, follow these revision tips to build surroundings that will help you revise effectively:

  • Try and set aside an area that’s just for revision. Avoid your bedroom if possible – you want to create a space you associate only with revision.
  • Make sure your desk is lit well (with natural light, if possible) and in a quiet spot, away from distractions like the TV.
  • Most people revise most effectively in a quiet environment. However, at certain times playing music may motivate and inspire you.
  • Find a spot where it’s easy to avoid distractions. Turn your phone off, move away from the TV and shut down your internet connection
  • Have everything to hand before starting. That means pens, pencils, paper, textbooks, exam papers – anything you need to revise.

Revision tip three: Think about your technique

Without the right revision technique, your meticulously-planned revision schedule and revision materials will be useless. These revision tips will help you make productive use of every minute of your revision time:

  • Simply reading textbooks and notes is not enough for effective revision. You need to be active, making notes and diagrams.
  • Short chunks of revision work best for most people. For instance, revise for 30 minutes, then take a ten-minute break.
  • Use past papers, textbooks and syllabuses to work out what you should be revising. You don’t want to concentrate on the wrong right areas.
  • Use a whole variety of materials: notes, textbooks, online resources – and create mind maps, diagrams and posters.
  • Past papers are a really valuable way to test your knowledge. When you work through questions, make sure you have the mark scheme too.
  • Set aside time to think as well as read and write. It’s important – switch environments for this,. Maybe go to a cafe, a park or for a walk.
  • Go over material more than once, but leave a day or two in between. This will help reinforce knowledge and fix it in your mind.

Revision tip four: Don’t overdo your revision

Push yourself too far and you’ll burn out, get tired or simply become less-effective. It’s important to think about your mind, your body and when you perform best:

  • Take frequent breaks. Ten minutes off every 30 – 40 minutes is a good balance for most people.
  • Stay hydrated and don’t get too hungry. Keep a glass of water on hand, along with healthy snacks like fruit and nuts.
  • Remember your friends and family. Spending time with them will keep you stimulated and stop you going ‘stir crazy’!
  • If things aren’t going quite to plan, don’t panic – just re-evaluate what you can cover in the remaining time, and focus on what you can achieve.

There are lots of other places online to get revision tips and advice.

See our recommended revision resources

If you'd like some further tips or advice, chat with one of our advisors on 0845 619 5779 who will be happy to help.