Revision Techniques

Effective Revision:

When you revise it is important to feel that you are making progress. Here are a few revision techniques to help you feel in control. Make sure that your revision is an effective use of your time. Some of us find learning and revising quite difficult and it can also be tediously boring at times. Try not to beat yourself up if it takes more time than you want it to – remember you are investing time in you and your results!

revise and prepare well – avoid doing it ever again!

You can reduce your stress levels by doing meaningful revision – this is not the same as sitting staring blankly at an exercise book! There are several different ways of revising effectively and most people use a combination of methods. You can look on the internet for other ideas, or talk with friends and teachers about good techniques. In the end you will have to decide what works best for you – so try them out!

Revision Techniques:

Make notes – by reading, simplifying and writing notes you are helping your mind to understand the important details. You can usually reduce an exercise book down to a few pages of condensed notes! Start this task early! Make notes, reduce, simplify and condense.

Revision is personal – we are all different, we learn differently and we also have ways that we prefer to revise. Be open to suggestions and try to find the style of revision that suits you best. Some people practice exam questions when they are wide awake and then make notes when they are feeling tired – you decide what works for you. There is not ‘this is the way you should revise’.

Learn it off by heart – learn the lines, the script, the formulae off by heart. Make sure that you check first how much you really need to do here. Check if there is a formulae sheet in the exam, or formulae are given in the exam paper – some subjects have different requirements. Acronyms are a good tool to use here – these are good for learning trigonometry formula like – Some Old Hags… sine = opposite / hypotenuse etc! Silly sentences work well and also phrases that are rude or funny are the easiest to remember!

Understand and believe! This sounds weird but it is difficult to remember things that you do not really understand! Also our mind will refuse to accept things that it doesn’t believe are true! Spend some time making sure that you understand the work and that you accept it – you will be surprised how easier it is to remember it afterwards! You might have to go over some old work and ‘teach it to yourself’ again. You can also ask a friend or teacher to explain it.


25 mins work, 5 mins break
Short bursts have been shown to be more effective than a long slog!

Short bursts of revision are more effective – 25 minutes and then a 5 minute break. This can sometimes be irritating when you are deeply engrossed in your work! In that case just acknowledge to yourself how well you were working! EGG TIMER is brilliant although I suppose you could use a mobile phone app!



Sat Navs and Examiners both have an irritating way of talking and asking questions. Exam questions are all written in the same style so you will need to learn the language! There is usually an introductory sentence to ‘set the scene’. There will then be something specific like facts, heights and numbers. Finally there will be the bit that you have to answer.

Bear in mind the words that are used in the questions:
‘State’ – means one word or a short sentence answer.
‘Calculate’ – means ‘work out’.
‘Discuss’ – means ‘write lots and include different viewpoints’.

Each exam board seems to have their own version of the words they use when they write exam questions. You can easily find these by searching for ‘command words’. Do a quick IMAGE search for:
‘command words in exams’

OR check these out –

AQA – Understanding the question:

The OCR guide to examinations (PDF) :

A Parents Guide to Understanding Exam Techniques:

Understand the question and what the examiner is asking for. Take a look at past papers for yourself to work out the language the examiners use and what each phrase means.

Practice answering questions even though it can seem incredibly boring! Maybe do half a paper at a time. Try and do practice papers at 9am and 1pm – although it might sound silly – those are the time most exams start! This will get you used to the routine when the exams start for real.

Help each other. Share what you find with your friends and ask them to share things with you as well. It is often said that one of the best ways of learning something is to try and teach it to someone else. So even though you might think that you are wasting time – teaching a friend something that you already know can be a good revision technique for you!

Revision guides – make sure they are for the correct exam and exam board – ask a teacher if you are not sure! These are often updated to reflect a new style of exam paper so check you have the up to date one!

Check out the internet (always limit yourself to one hour maximum!) to find other revision techniques.

Look at past papers – again make sure that they are the correct subject and exam board! Look for the exam paper ‘number’. Each subject that you are entered for has a unique exam number – this relates to the exam papers and the syllabus (called a specification – all the things you need to learn). This number also appears on the exam timetable that you will be given from school.

Mark Scheme – you can check the answers for past papers by looking for the ‘Mark Scheme’ that will also be on the exam board website. Sometimes it can help to look at the answers to past papers so that you can understand how the examiner awards the marks.

Examiners Reports are produced every year after the exams have all been marked and grades awarded. There is often some useful information on which topics students did well and where they had misunderstood questions or lost marks. Sometimes topics that were answered poorly one year come back again in a slightly different question the following year! There are extra tips to be found here about ‘most students failed to include… in their answers’. Exam boards will put these reports on their websites for the public to look at (you!).

Check which topics keep appearing in previous exams – do this with other students and teachers – work together.

Revision websites – some of these can be more useful than others. Make sure you share what you find and get your friends to find some others for you.

Teachers actually want you to do well in the exam! You can ask them for help – make sure that you have had a go at finding out first! Try and ask them a ‘grown up’ question (what is it that you really need help with?) rather than simply say ‘I don’t get it sir!’


Remember that revision is nothing more than you preparing for the exam!


What will help you answer the questions? – Know your stuff, understand the question and give enough detail to answer the question.


Download this page as a pdf document:
   Exam stress – revision techniques

Check out the other pages on exam stress:

Exam Stress
Exam Stress Levels
Revision Techniques
Reduce Exam Stress
Stress Busting Tools
Exam Stress Workshop