7 signs you might be revising the wrong way and what to do about it

The pressure is immense. Your teachers aren't only doing revision in every lesson you go to, they're putting on extra revision sessions outside normal school hours. All your school assemblies seem to emphasise how important the next few weeks of your life are, and how hard you should be working. Your parents nervously ask you every evening how it's all going. And, your friends are creating all these fancy revision notes with about eight different colours of highlighter, that make you feel like you're doing revision completely wrong.

Basically, you're scared. You want to do well. You don't want to let anyone down. But, you don't know if you're revising in the right way.

Here, I'm going to share with you 7 signs you might be revising the wrong way, and what you can do about it.

1. Nothing ever seems to stick in your head

Does this sound like you?

You sit at your desk for hour after hour reading your class notes but you don't feel like anything is actually sticking in your head. It's worrying you, stressing you out and making you anxious.

What can you do about it?

Find out if anything is going in!

How do you do this?

You test yourself, get other people to test you or do practice exam questions.

If you can't remember anything when you test yourself, you need to come up with a different way to revise. Need new ideas on how to revise? There are 40 different ways to revise in The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take.

2. You're seeing no improvement in your marks for practice exam questions

Ultimately, the success of your revision is going to be judged by your exam results. The best way to work out if you're revising in the right way is to do practice exam questions.

If, every time you look at at practice exam questions you spin into a panic because you have no idea how to answer them, then you need to do one or both of these things:

  1. Find a different way to revise, so you've remembered more and have more to write about in the question
  2. Get familiar with the mark scheme so you know how the examiner wants you to answer the questions

3. You find yourself staring off into the middle distance for the majority of the time you're supposed to be revising

Somehow, you manage to force yourself to sit down at your desk. But, once you're there, nothing happens.

You stare into the middle distance for hours on end, trying to conquer the feeling of dread you have about opening up that text book at page 1 and having to work through it, right to the very end.

What can you do about this?

Two things:

  1. Break your revision down into bite-sized chunks by creating a revision plan. When you have a list of lots of small tasks it's easy to show that you're making lots of progress by ticking them off, one at a time. Having one huge task to do is over-whelming for anyone, so break it down into little pieces so you can mark off your progress.
  2. Find a way to revise that works for your particular learning style. In The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take I show you how to identify how you learn most effectively, and how you can apply this knowledge of yourself to your revision to make it more successful, and more enjoyable (yes, really!).

4. You have no idea what you need to know to pass this exam

If you don't know what you need to know, how are you going to be sure you know it all?

Knowing what you need to know for your exam results is the first step towards effective revision. Why?

Not only can you make sure you're revising the right things, but you can also make sure you're revising ALL the things you need to know.

When you've got a list of what you need to know, it not only breaks revision into bite-sized chunks, it also lets you know when you're finished. Knowing when you've finished will give you a wonderful sense of achievement and will give you confidence going into your exam.

How do you know what you need to know? Look it up on the exam syllabus.

5. You're trying to revise, but you don't actually know how!

Don't worry, we've all been there. I remember being told to revise for Year 9 Science tests and complaining to my mum “They've told me to revise, but I don't know how to revise!”.

What is revision?

Revision basically means ‘seeing again'. So, going over everything you've learned again.

The key for you is to find a way of going over the information again, and again, and again, in a way that works for you. So that, come exam day, all that good stuff is firmly planted in your memory so that you can write it all down on your exam paper.

How do you find a way of revising that works for you?

There are many, many different ways to revise. You can ask your friends or older siblings how they revise. Or, check out the forty different ways to revise in The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take.

But, how do you choose out of so many different ways?

Well, you have to choose ways that work with your learning style. So, think about whether you learn best in groups, by being active and doing things, or by reading things and writing them down. Again, I go into how you discover this in a lot more detail in The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take.

6. It's days since you went outside, saw your friends, did some exercise or did anything for pleasure

It's been proven by researchers that it actually helps your memory to take frequent, well-planned revision breaks.

Are you sitting at your desk for hours on end, not giving yourself a break and getting a headache? Then, you're making yourself into a revision martyr and damaging your chances of exam success.

What's the solution?

Plan frequent study breaks that are a complete change from sitting at your desk.

For example:

  • Do some star jumps or some sit-ups
  • Go outside and walk around the block
  • Have a healthy snack and a drink
  • Meet up with friends

You'll come back to your revision feeling refreshed, and you'll be surprised at how much you remember from the revision session before the break.

In  The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take I give you permission to look after yourself during revision time, knowing that it will help you to achieve even better exam results, and be happier and healthier at the same time.

7. You can't concentrate!

Being able to concentrate and have a clear head when you revise is so important. You need to take steps to make sure you can concentrate:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum e.g. turn the music down, the TV off and leave your phone outside the room
  • Make mental space for revision. Have you got ‘stuff' going on in your life like a break up with your boyfriend or family issues? Try to make all the people around you understand that this is a crucial time in your life and this stuff needs to a wait a few weeks
  • Take regular breaks so that your brain is always fresh and ready to concentrate.

Take Action!

Did you recognise yourself in any of the scenarios above? Yes? Well, it's time to take action.

Follow my advice and take the steps you need to take to make your revision work for you, and get you the results you want to get.

If you still need more help, consider joining The Extraordinaries Club, my online club for families going through the exam years. I support students to develop their study skills, mindset and habits to help them reach their full potential whilst showing parents how to improve their communication and support skills so that you all get through this time harmoniously. With weekly coaching calls from me and an on-site private community, it's the best way to get my help and support with your study and revision problems.

Find out more here.

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