When exams are looming at school or in the workplace, revision is a key way to help you prepare. Making sure you create a realistic timetable around your existing workload can help you minimise stress and maximise your chance of acing your exams. In this guide, we’ll be going over how to practically create a timetable that works for you.
Work out how much time you have to revise
One of the very first things you’ll need to do is figure out how much time you have to revise. For example, if it is still term time, your revision time will likely fall before or after school. Or you may be on school holidays or exam season, which gives you more time to revise during the day. Whichever applies to you, you need to be aware of how much time you have during a full week to revise, and allocate time accordingly.
It’s also important to identify any key deadlines when creating your revision timetable, so that you have something to work towards. If you can, try to find out the exact dates and times that you will be sitting your exams. This will help give you enough time to make realistic, achievable revision goals and monitor your progress in the lead up to exams.
Break your subjects down into revision topics
Taking on a subject to revise can be intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. A great way to manage your revision sessions effectively is to break down your subject into manageable topics to revise. This makes it easier to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. It also helps you cover significant subject areas efficiently.
- School materials: You can always use the syllabus provided by your school to break down your subjects into revision topics. For example, the textbooks, general books, and resources provided by your teachers throughout the year, can help you determine which topics you may want to go over during your revision sessions.
- Examination specifications and papers: Past exam papers and specifications are handy resources, especially since the topics that come up are often quite similar to the topics that you will be examined on. Plus, using past papers to identify revision topics will help you prepare better for the style of questions you will need to answer.
Prioritise key subjects
It’s very likely that you’ll have some subjects you are stronger at and other subjects which require a bit more attention. Or perhaps there are certain subjects that are more important for your university and work applications. You will need to factor this into your revision timetable and prioritise these subjects accordingly.
- Prioritise your subjects: It’s a good idea to prioritise your subjects based on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your exam timetable. For example, you may want to allocate more time to subjects which you currently are struggling more with, or subjects that have exams which have closer deadlines.
- Work out the best time to revise: Understanding when you are most productive in a day can help with creating an effective revision timetable. For example, if you find that you are most productive and energised early in the morning, it might be a good idea to focus the bulk of your revision then, rather than at the end of the day when you just want to go to bed.
Incorporate regular break times
It’s really important to schedule regular break times into your revision timetable. As tempting as it is to pack your timetable with lots of working hours, overworking can lead to exhaustion and burnout – which will make it harder for you to revise in the long run. You need to make sure that you have enough energy and concentration for your planned revision sessions.
- Short breaks: Short breaks are handy to incorporate in between sessions to help you refocus and to break up very long sessions. You may choose to incorporate 10–15 minutes of break time after each hour of revision. During this time, you could go for a walk, have a snack, or watch something relaxing before returning to work.
- Long breaks: It’s also great to add in some longer breaks too. You may want to add in breaks of between 30 and 90 minutes – or longer – during which you might have a full meal, catch up with a friend, or do an activity you enjoy.
Vary your revision activities
It’s easy to think of long hours in the library, poring over books and taking notes, when it comes to revision. However, an effective revision timetable considers multiple ways to revise, depending on the subject and what works best for you. Whilst reading and note-taking can be helpful, it certainly isn’t the only way to make the most of your revision time. Some popular methods include:
- Using past papers: One of the best ways to revise is actually answering questions from past papers. This will help prepare you for working in examination conditions, alongside answering the kind of questions that are likely to come up in the exam.
- Memory recall: Memory recall can help you remember key information for your exams. For example, you may want to use flash cards or sticky notes to test your memory.
- Teaching someone else: Teaching a friend or family member can help challenge you in a good way – often, the pressure of helping someone else understand your subject can actually help you with remembering key subject-specific information.
You can check out our guide ‘Revision techniques: how to ace revision’ here with a more detailed breakdown of the different methods you can use.