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Tips on exam revision

Updated on March 31, 2017

For many students, the thought of upcoming exams can be a terrifying prospect.

Some people can seemingly breeze through exams without being particularly adept at the subject that they are being tested on. Others who may be on the whole much better students, can struggle to perform well in exams down to either the pressure of the event itself or to poor revision techniques.

As such exams unquestionably aren't always the most effective method of testing an individuals knowledge on a particular subject. In most cases however they are either the only option or are weighted as more important that any other testing methods, and as such learning to perform well in exams is essential.

Make a Plan

Disorganization is one of the biggest reasons why so many people tend to struggle to revise efficiently and in turn succeed in exams, even if they are otherwise competent in the subject matter.

Making a revision plan is an oft overlooked tool to ensure the right amount of revision is being done on the right topic within a subject at any given time. Knowing ahead of time what you should be revising ensures that you don't blindly stumble through a subject without making any real headway. Also essential to this process is ensuring that your notes are cohesive and kept in a reasonable order so that material on a particular aspects of a subject can be accessed quickly.

Prioritizing revision

A common mistake many tend to fall into when revising before an exam is simply trying to take on too much all at once. The majority of the time there are areas of any given subject which you are already proficient and other areas that you struggle with. Revising both equally thus tends to cover a lot of extra ground on topics you know already and leave you less time to strengthen up areas you are weaker in.

Because of this prioritizing how much time you will spend on each aspect of a subject can mean the difference between progress and achieving the same grades each time without any improvement.

The easiest way to tell which areas you are weakest in is through the use of practice tests, which give you quantifiable data in terms of where you are dropping the most marks. From here allocating more or less time to each subject as appropriate becomes easy.


Cramming is a technique that works extremely well for some people and not at all for others. The term basically alludes to cramming as much information into your mind as possible in a short space of time prior to an exam.

This works on the basis that for some people, larger amounts of information can be remembered in the short term of for example a couple of days, than the longer term of several weeks. This isn't to say that other revision shouldn't be done several weeks in advance of a given exam, although lighter revision followed by cramming can be much more effective for some people.

This technique is undoubtedly best practiced on a mock exam rather than being tested out on a real exam as some people find this technique overwhelming rather than helpful.

Learning to pass exams

In many cases the difficulty in passing examinations isn't necessarily in retaining enough knowledge on a particular subject, but in articulating this into acceptable answers. As such learning how to pass exams rather than having an exhaustive knowledge of a given subject is often a more effective approach.

Probably the best way to do this is through the use of mock exams, which are often available on the websites of the examination boards and in most cases through schools and colleges. What's important about mock exams isn't doing well first time out, but in learning how to improve on your previous score and shore up areas where you are shipping a lot of easily attainable marks.

Invariably you will find that the questions asked both from one year to another and from different exam boards on the same subject are usually very similar.


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    • benzine87 profile image

      benzine87 5 years ago

      The best single way to prepare I've found is simply to practice all the tests you can before the main exam. Taking ten or so mock exams or past papers and revising bits you found hard can usually push your final result up a couple of grades at least :D

    • profile image

      Sazzie 5 years ago

      I rele worry about test grades