Eight key revision tips for exam success

The good news is that the end of the year brings a well-deserved break. The bad news is that you probably have exams either before the holiday or immediately after. Here are some of our best revision tips to keep your exam stress low and your grades high this December.

1. Start early

The most important of all our revision tips is to begin preparing for the exam period well in advance. The more time you give yourself, the more thorough you can be. In addition, if you spread your work over more weeks, you don’t need to push yourself so hard each day. You’ll have more flexibility to take time off for special occasions, or just when you’re not in the mood to study!

But what about if you’re reading this the week of your exam and thinking, ok that sounds nice, but too little too late? We don’t recommend cramming, but sometimes there’s no alternative. Use Proprep‘s video tutorials to make your revision as efficient as possible, especially when time is limited!

2. Create a good timetable

If you’ve managed to start revision in advance, work out how much time you have left and divide it up into study sessions. Make a revision timetable and stick to it!

As we wrote in our time management tips, different people work better at different times of day and in different ways. For example, I know that I like to change up what I’m doing every hour. That way I don’t lose focus and can stay productive for longer. If I’m doing this, I can revise well from the morning until about 6pm, but I hate studying into the night. If you’re not sure how you function best, try a few different ways until you find a schedule you like. Remember to take enough breaks to keep you sane and avoid burnout!

Photo credit: Cmspic, Shutterstock

3. Find the right location to study

This might sound too basic for our revision tips, but it couldn’t be more important. What works for you might not work for a friend, and will probably be dependent on how you like to revise. If you need motivation to get your head down, go to the library. However, if you like to study in the early or late hours, your room may work out better.

Wherever it is, make sure you have a clean, well-lit, quiet space that you can focus in. Snacks within reach are an added plus!

4. Work on your weak areas

We all like to play to our strengths. However, if you only ever revise what you’re good at, you’ll never improve. Get real about which are your weaker areas, and dedicate more time to those when you’re making your schedule. Figure out how you can improve in these areas – do you need to do extra background reading? Can you ask a coursemate for help? If it’s time management itself that is a weak area for you, check out our blog about working on it!

If you’ve missed a few lectures over the course of the term, it’s all good. Proprep‘s video tutorials and study guides can help you if you need to go over content. This is true whether you were in the room but zoned out, or hungover in bed!

5. Use memory tools

Now to the actual revising. The goal of revision is to retain information you can then bring out to answer the exam questions. If you don’t have a good memory, this might feel a bit daunting. However, there are tons of things you can use as memory aids. Notes, flash cards, diagrams, flowcharts… If something’s worked for you in the past, use it again. Otherwise, again, try out a few techniques to see what feels the best.

Visual learners like using bright colours and aesthetically-pleasing notes to aid their revision process. Check out the world of Studygram if that applies to you!

6. Take advantage of resources

Be sure to use all the course resources your professors point out to you. They’ll have guidance, extra support, and revision tips for you to use. Alongside these, you can do your own research to find resources that’ll help you expand your knowledge of the subject.

Try Proprep‘s video tutorials if you want learning tools customised exactly to your STEM course. Don’t waste your time with material that’s not relevant to what you’re studying! If you can’t find a module, send us your syllabus to receive materials created especially for you. Plus, if you’re stuck on anything, you can send your questions directly to our professor team! They’ll respond shortly with a personalised video answer.

7. Practice makes perfect

Ok, so you think you have the theory down. The best way to test your understanding is to get as much practice answering questions as possible. Past papers will help you hone your answers as well as familiarising you with the format of the exam. For example, if you have a choice between two sections, you can decide which areas to prioritise in your revision. Try your hand at attempting problems under time pressure, and without looking at solutions or using any help.

If you’re looking for more opportunities for improvement, there are thousands of practice problems on the Proprep platform. Have a go at them, and watch the video solutions if you need to see where you went wrong.

Photo credit: Jacob Lund, Shutterstock

8. Study with your peers

Revising with friends is a great way to work socialising into your study schedule. As well as being an important break from staring at your notes all day, you can learn from one another. You’ll get to share resources, revision tips, and info. Study groups are great if you want to brainstorm in a big group, but so are one-on-one sessions with a friend. Choose to focus on a certain topic area every time you meet up, and bring your notes and other materials you might need.

This one is harder to achieve if you’re home studying during the Winter holidays. However, sometimes even working next to someone doing something completely different to you will help keep you focused for longer. The perks of peer pressure! Invite friends over, catch up for a little while, then get down to business.

What are your best revision tips?

Did we miss anything important? Have you tried any of our revision tips and found they helped you reduce exam stress? Let us know in the comments below! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Better time management for students: our six top tips

Student life is BUSY. You’re working, doing activities, socialising, and remembering to feed and clean yourself… It makes sense that time management for students can go out the window. It also might be the first time you’ve been left to your own devices for a lot of the day. Gone is the structure of school, replaced with overlapping deadlines and long library hours.

One of the best reasons to use Proprep is to up your time management game. When I was a student, I always started the university term determined to stay on top of things. However, I would get more and more behind as the weeks went on. I was like a duck: calm on the surface, but paddling like crazy to stay afloat behind the scenes. If this sounds familiar, here’s how to work on changing your routine for the better.

The importance of time management for students

Good time management helps students to prioritise their tasks and submit assignments on time. Students can plan, set aside the time they need to complete work, and make better use of the rest of their time.

It might feel like some people are naturally good at using their time, but this isn’t the case. Time management is an organisational process that enables you to plan effectively, and anyone can learn to do it. Excellent time management skills will allow you to work more productively. You can then get more done with less stress, especially when pressure is high. Follow our top tips to start managing your time better today!

A female student, struggling with time management, checks her watch while working.
Photo credit: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

1. Prioritise your tasks

The key to time management for students is creating a to-do list. Identify what you need to do, then prioritise tasks based on the dates your assignments are due and the amount of time you’ll need. You can base your schedule for the day and week around what needs to get done first. If you’ve got some flexibility, start with what you most feel like doing. Hopefully the momentum will carry you through the rest of your list!

2. Break big tasks down

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by large tasks like ‘Start Chemistry revision’, and the anxiety can make you want to procrastinate. Start with shorter, simpler to-do items and then move on to larger projects or assignments. You can break these down into manageable chunks too. Rather than ‘Revise’, try and get through ‘Chapter 1 Notes’, ‘Chapter 1 Practice Exercises’, and so on.

3. Make a schedule that works for you

Some people like to divide their time and assign different tasks to each chunk; some people like to stay at one until it’s done. When I was at uni, I got bored if I spent too long on one thing, so I changed it up every hour. Even though overall assignments took me longer, I was able to be stay more productive all day. Try a few different ways until you figure out what kind of time management works for you.

Different people work better at different times of the day. If you know you’re a night owl, take it easy in the morning and get back to work after supper. I knew this would exhaust me though, so I preferred to get to the library early and try to leave by 6pm.

Whatever you choose, make sure you put enough breaks throughout the day to keep you sane and avoid burnout. Many people like the pomodoro technique, which consists of working for 25 minutes before breaking for five, with a longer break every four cycles. Once you’ve committed to a plan, stick to it!

4. Remove distractions

A University of London study showed that those who multitask see a drop in IQ similar to someone who didn’t sleep the night before. If you’re trying to juggle doing multiple things at once, you’ll almost always end up less productive. Get real with yourself about what might be distracting you. Are you spending too much time checking Instagram or TikTok? Even if you’re online for a productive purpose like Studygram, try and stay in the zone while you’re working. Can you turn social media breaks into rewards for crossing something off your list?

5. Treat yoself!

Speaking of rewards, positively reinforcing the work you do will help you keep working for longer. Use your breaks to check the apps you’ve been avoiding, catch up with a friend, or spend time outside to feel refreshed. Pick something you’re looking forward to each week to use as motivation to accomplish your goals. For example, when I’ve finished three practice papers, I’ll watch the new James Bond film.

If you’re struggling to relax during your downtime, give your mind a rest through meditation or yoga.

A young woman practises yoga online from her living room.
Photo credit: Luke SW, Shutterstock

6. Build a good routine

After a couple of weeks of sticking to your time management schedule, hopefully you’ll build up good momentum and feel more in routine. An important part of this is also taking care of yourself: getting enough sleep, nutritious food, fresh air, and movement. Try and give yourself early nights when you can. These are especially important if you know you have a busy few days ahead, or you’re always late for the same lecture.

Your thoughts on time management for students

Have you tried any of our tips and found them helpful? What’s your best time management advice? Let us know in the comments!

How #studygram enhances student motivation

Have you heard of studygram? No? Well, picture that one kid in school who had 700 fineliner pens and always made the prettiest mind maps. Now imagine if they could’ve used the internet to connect to thousands of different versions of themselves, all around the world.

We’re probably all used to admiring the beautiful notes of some of our friends and classmates. However, the social media age means that we can now do the same to people from around the globe: enter #studygram. With over 13 and a half million posts (!), the popular Instagram hashtag has launched a positive student community of proud studygrammers. These users connect and share diagrams, to-do lists, tips, notes and more, to inspire other learners around the world. 

Pretty notes for the win

Typical studygram posts show off vibrant, neat notes, usually handwritten but sometimes created on an iPad or other tablet. Colours affect neurological pathways in the brain and create biochemical responses, improving our memory, stimulating our emotions, and further motivating us to learn. Taking notes by hand has also been proven to be better than typing for both understanding and remembering conceptual information in the long term.

Of course, it’s important not to get lost in the aesthetic aspects of your work and compromise on quality. If you’re a visual learner, however, investing in the appearance of your notes will definitely pay off. 

A positive community

Social media often gets a bad rep for being a distraction from your studies. The studygram world shows that it can also be used for good, keeping you learning from others and motivating yourself even during your downtime. Studygram posts range from stationery tips to detailed notes, aiming to inspire other students to get more organised about their studies and daily routine. In addition, studygrammers help their peers to discover new learning resources.

On the flip side, have you ever been labelled a ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ for enjoying working hard? You can use the studygram community to take pride in being a diligent student. Instagram’s international reach means you can engage with like-minded people all over the world and of all ages. They’ll embrace you in all your highlighter shades.

The community is very positive, with studygrammers encouraging their fellows to share thoughts and tips in the comments. They’re also honest about the struggles of time management, staying motivated, and exam stress. Users have noted the culture of personal growth and accountability, feeling encouraged by seeing other studygrammers hard at work.

Photo credit: @studyrhi, Instagram

Our favourite STEM studygrammers

Emilystudying

Emily’s notes cover a range of topics in Biology and Maths, and always look beautiful! Check out the mix between her trademark rainbow-coloured pens and, more recently, some impressive iPad art.

Studykween

Aleksandra is a fourth-year medical student in London, and her page has it ALL. Using more muted pastel tones than the typical bright colours you might expect to see, check out her diagrams, study tips, and weekly newsletters!

Studywithara

Ara is a pharmacology and physiology major using her digital skills to promote good motivation and productivity habits. She even creates wallpapers available for download each month, with desktop, tablet, and mobile sizes.

Thewordygal

Don’t be put off by the name: Sarah is a nurse-to-be. For a girl who must spend so much time in the lab, her desk is AMAZING! Follow for workspace decor inspiration and tips for the best buys to help you study.

How to up your note-taking game, inspired by studygram

  1. Grab a blank page of a pretty notebook or planner.
  2. Make sure you have some coloured pens on hand, and use them as much as possible.
  3. Write a big, beautiful title at the top or in the middle of your page.
  4. Use numbered lists, bullet points, subtitles and boxes to divide your page into sections. These will break up the material and make it easier to learn.
  5. Try a hand-drawn graphic or doodled diagrams to add pretty detail.
  6. Most importantly: don’t panic if it doesn’t come out looking like how you intended. The studygram community is loving and supportive, and every page is a fresh start you can use to try again!

The five best ways to study maths

Studying mathematics effectively at an undergraduate level is often about finding new ways to study. It can take time, for instance, learning how to take the right notes and how to pace yourself when working alone. If you are keen to find more effective ways to study, we can help. Here are five ways to master your maths study needs.

  1. Ensure you understand one topic before moving to another.

It might sound obvious but in a maths degree, you cannot afford any knowledge gaps, so make sure you understand one topic before moving on to another. A good habit to get into is to review your lecture notes immediately after every lecture. This way, you can make sure you understand the main ideas and flesh out the details where you need to. If you then don’t understand anything, seek out the help of the lecturer, or bring it up in your tutorials. It’s the best way to learn and make sure you don’t fall behind.

  1. Take lecture notes properly. 

It also pays to take notes in the right way. Unlike school, you do not need to write down every word, but you do need to understand what a lecturer is saying. Some top tips to get you started: 

  • Take notes in a way that makes sense to you. Whether it’s in diagram form, with examples or leaving gaps for you to fill in with independent work, at a later date.
  • Try to make your notes as complete and as accurate as possible so they are valuable but keep them brief enough so that you can still listen to what is being said.
  • Be prepared for varied lecturing styles from lecturers; not all will use a whiteboard or equation examples when explaining topics.
  • Annotate all lecture hand-outs as you are given them, to correlate with your notes, so you can see where they slot in.
  • Organise your notes under topics; this will help for practice and revision.
  1. Work with your peers.

Working with peers can help with understanding and theorising as well as with your revision. Peers can also provide enlightening insight and crucial ideas but try not to rely on them for solutions. The best peer group work happens via collaboration and support. To ensure this works for you, choose like-minded friends to work with, who have the same goals and work patterns as you.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Mathematics is all about problem-solving, and the only way to test your understanding is to work through problem sets and keep practising. It is impossible to study maths by just reading and listening so make sure you put in the required independent work too. If you are having difficulties with mathematical proof and analysis (common amongst first-year students as it’s so different from A-level maths), seek help either from your professors or an independent tutor. 

  1. Give Proprep a try.

As the key to taking maths at university is to get plenty of practice, Proprep can really help you here. Our video tutorials not only match your syllabus and textbooks but also take you step-by-step through each problem and solution for all of your course’s topics. 

This enables you to practice at your own speed and master any topic area in three steps: 

  • Watch the video tutorials.
  • Solve practice problems.
  • Then watch the video solutions to check your work.

It’s an ideal way to master complex problem sets when you are working on your own and will give you insight into new areas you haven’t come across before. Also in response to the outbreak of Covid19, we have now opened up all our customised learning resources for free to all students until the end of the academic year. All you need to set up your account is an email address, no credit card details required, which you can do by clicking here

8 free apps and tools to help you study and socialise more effectively

If you’re looking for some extra support during the lockdown look no further than your smartphone and laptop. The key to feeling connected and getting more out of studying and socialising is at your fingertips.

Proprep  

We aim to make your life easier, with our personalised system of STEM video content and study guides tailored to your needs. Knowing this information is there whenever you need it means you can cover the work you need to do in your own time. This not only helps you tackle tougher subject areas with more confidence but will also enable you to practice as much as you need to. 

Evernote App 

The Evernote app helps you focus on what matters most thanks to its easy to access pool of information. You can manually input information and add to-do lists, photos, images, web pages, audio and work documents, and access them on all your devices. Better yet, it’s all instantly searchable. It’s especially useful for annotating documents with notes and comments, as well as being able to share everything with fellow peers.

Trello 

Trello is the best task-tracking app on the market and will make studying that much easier to manage. You can create cards for individual tasks, label functions to place them in order of priority and tick them off as you go. 

For ease, you can also view on boards for each topic area, or via a calendar for daily to-dos. Plus you can share study boards with students you work with, and they can add comments to the cards, helping you to study and stay in touch.

Google docs

Working on documents with your tutors or peers is easy with Google Docs. Instead of sending documents back and forth through email, and then trying to track everyone’s change, you can just save your file as a Google Doc and select the people you want to share it with. It’s a live document so you can see comments and changes from others, making for some good collaborative work.

Photo credit: Africa studio, shutterstock

House Party app

The Houseparty app uses a split-screen to make multiple video chatting easy between 8 users, adding in a feature that allows for secret chats among participants. You can also create rooms and ask people to join your video-chat room by sending a link through text. The idea is when you open the app; it is similar to a house party where you chat with other people already ‘in the house’. When you use the app, your friends will be alerted that you are available to video chat and can join in.

Zoom app 

Zoom is the new Skype and was downloaded 2.13m times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced. The free version allows for video calls of less than 40 minutes, though reconnect on the same link after your 40 minutes is up, and you are all back on again. Launching a chat can be done at the click of a button, or you can either generate a link to send to your friends.

Google Hangouts

There are two versions of Google Hangouts; Hangouts Chat is the consumer version of Hangouts, used for connecting with your friends. Unlike Zoom, hangouts are also far easier to use on mobile and tablet if that’s your preference.

Messenger VS WhatsApp


It’s likely you already have these two apps on your phone. WhatsApp wins on the privacy front as everything is encrypted. But when it comes to giving you a wide range of access to contacts, Facebook Messenger wins over WhatsApp. For calls WhatsApp seems to have better signals for international and rural calls.