Do you want to optimize your revision? Find how to revise more efficiently.

You may well be wishing for a photographic memory ( I do it too, sometimes). But other than being upset about not having one, you will do little to improve your exam performance. Even so, you can easily shorten the time for revision while increasing performance.

Try this highly effective strategy that has made almost all of my exams a cakewalk (or just a little bit easier).

1.Focus on 1 topic at a time

According to scientists, the average person can recall between 5 and 7 facts in short-term memory. Therefore it is vital to narrow down a complex topic into the smallest steps possible.

I’ve tried to do as much as possible for you on my revision themes, when it comes to breaking up the information. For instance, I’ve divided the theme settlement into sub-sections, which are narrowed down into specific details.



2.Read the material

Familiarise yourself with the material and try to grasp the main concepts. In other words, make sure you understand what is written in your notes/books/syllabus, but do not make an effort to remember any of the information. As soon as your focus is on retention, rather than comprehension, you will memorise less due to the pressured conditions.

3.Summarise the key points in less than half a page

This should just give you an overview of the main points. By all means avoid copying down details. If you have more than half a page of notes, either you need to make your handwriting smaller, or you are working with too much information.

4. Start doing past paper questions

Everyone advises you to do past paper questions. Why? Because it prepares you for the exact question that may turn up in the exam. And if you do it early on in your revision, the past papers will cue you as to which details of your textbook you need to remember. This saves you time, as you may be able to skip some sections. But be careful to read the syllabus or guide for your exam, so you don’t accidentally omit any relevant details.

In this stage of practising, wrong answers or questions you have no idea about are not an issue. Just attempt everything anyways, as that will help you learn from your mistakes. And most importantly, be sure to check your answers with the mark scheme, which tells you precisely how to structure your responses.

5. Write-out

The previous steps should have helped you learn the material, but it is equally important to test yourself. Get a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you know, including the things you are unsure about. It is best to time this activity, so give yourself  15, 20 or 30 minutes as required. In the end, go over everything you wrote using your text book/syllabus/notes/revision guide and add anything you missed, as well as correcting any mistakes. Repeat this step until you have 80-90% of the information memorised.

6. Do past papers under exam conditions

Past papers will prepare you for the real exam. Be sure to work at a brightly lit, big desk, with all the materials you need and no distractions. Mark them and assign yourself scores according to the mark scheme and grade thresholds.

7. Relax and reward

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Take frequent breaks

The human brain is like a growing sponge. It can only hold so much knowledge at a time, but with practise and phases of rest, its capacity will increase. So remember to make time for yourself, your hobbies and your health.

8. Mindset

Do not worry about upcoming exams. Trust yourself and your skills. Even if you have had bad grades before, you can always do better this time. You can go from a G to an A* if you are extremely motivated.

Avoid Negative Thoughts

Panicky thoughts are self-fulfilling prophecies. Try to replace negative statements with more optimistic ideas.

IF YOU THINK: What if I fail? I did not revise as much as I should have. I will let myself and my parents down.

SAY: I am well prepared to show what I know, and even if I do not perform as good as I can, there will always be another way that gets me where I want to go. In life, taking action is what matters, not which grades I have in high school.

Reinforce Positive Thoughts through Visualisation

Picture yourself in the exam hall, knowing the answers to the questions. Really enjoy the feeling of doing well, of achieving your goal. Then focus on results day. Envision yourself having that A*, A, B, C or whatever grade you worked hard for.

Also, think of all the achievements in your life, all the times you excelled, when you did something you are proud of.

PS: Check out this post, if you are worried about procrastination.