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5 ways to revise effectively

15 April 2021

With many ways to revise during exam season, you might be trying to figure out what works best for you. To help, UCL student Cheryl Li gives her top five tips for revising effectively.

5 ways to revise effectively

Whether you’re experiencing end of year exams for the first time or you’re a final year student coming to end of your time at university, revising for exams can be daunting.
To help, this article suggests some useful tips to guide you through the revision period with minimal stress.


1. Start organising your workload

Scheduling and planning is the first step to staying on top of your revision this upcoming month.
Find a planner or calendar for you to write down all your exam dates. I like having a paper planner that I carry around for me to pen in and colour code with highlighters, but there are several online planners that you can use too. 

One great tool that I have recently discovered is Notion, which is an all-in-one workspace. 
It’s free for personal use and has been a huge help for having my revision plan all in one place.
It’s also great for creating summaries of lectures, adding extra reading lists, and past paper questions.

Find out how to get started.

2. Understand the exam specification

It’s no doubt that for many courses, the exam format will be different to previous years when there were in-person exams. 

As a biomed student, my exams this year are 24-hour essay questions, whereas I would usually have a range of multiple-choice papers. 

Knowing this, I can centre my revision around understanding the lectures, finding extra reading around the topic, and creating essay plans for past paper questions.

Extra reading and past papers should be on your Moodle page and if not, make sure to post on the forum asking for it, since your course mates are probably thinking the same thing.

3. Set boundaries

The biggest hurdle to overcome with revision is burning out. Just like a long-distance run, you want to pace yourself so that you have the stamina and energy to get through the whole distance. 

To get a good pace, I recommend setting both physical and time boundaries. 

Try to find a study space that is separate from your bedroom. If this isn’t possible, try not to work in your bed. If you’re in London, there are several UCL libraries which are open and available to book. 

As well as this, allocate times that you dedicate as your working hours. 
Setting these boundaries will allow you to create a barrier between work and rest, so that after a session of studying, you can fully decompress. 

4. Eliminate digital distractions

If you’re like me and get easily distracted by social media and your phone, it’s helpful to find a way to get rid of these distractions. 

One app that has helped me focus is Forest

When you set a timer on Forest, from 5 to 120 minutes, your virtual tree is growing. Once a tree is successfully planted, you will collect a certain number of coins, and once those coins accumulate you will have enough to plant a real-life tree in the Amazon rainforest. 

However, if you click off the app whilst your timer is on, the virtual tree will die, and no coins will be collected. 

5. Be kind to yourself

No exam result is going to be worth putting your mental health at risk, so make time for things that make you happy. 
This could be listening to a podcast on a walk, cooking dinner, or pampering yourself. 

Schedule in days off and evening plans, but make sure everything you do is in line with the current COVID-19 restrictions!

Be sure to fuel your body and brain by staying hydrated, not over caffeinating yourself, and eating well, all of which will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Reach out to friends and course mates who are going through exam season too, since we are all in this together. 
And as always, UCL are here to help. You can find all the details on the Student Support and Wellbeing page.