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.

Struggling with poor mental health at university?

I remember looking at older friends’ pictures from university while I was in school with envy. I couldn’t wait to join in the fun. A month into my own time on campus, however, I realised hadn’t thought at all about managing my mental health at university.

I’d been misled by my friends’ ‘highlight reel’ of the student experience. Of course nobody uploads photos of them working late into the night, or struggling to connect with strangers, or just going through life without the support system they’d known at home. Another huge thing I hadn’t realised was simply how much time I’d spend on my own if I weren’t proactive about it.

Student mental health

The arrival on campus brings amazing new opportunities. However, the upheaval can also leave you vulnerable to struggles with your mental health at university, as you deal with the stresses of adult life for the first time. This situation has been compounded by two years of cancelled social activities and classes held behind a computer screen. In an NUS survey, over half of participants said that their mental health had been negatively affected by COVID-19. Less than a third of them had sought help. According to the Office for National Statistics, 26% of students reported feeling lonely often or always, compared with 8% of adults in general.

Students can experience struggles with all aspects of their mental and emotional health. Triggers that students report include study and work pressures, relationship trouble, homesickness and loneliness, financial worries, and bullying. Anxiety is one of the most commonly-diagnosed mental health problems among students, as well as depression and suicidal feelings.

Warning signs for these disorders include things like extreme highs and lows of emotion, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, lack of energy and motivation, or physical symptoms like headaches, digestive issues and body pain. However, this checklist isn’t exhaustive at all. If you’re struggling, seek help immediately, regardless of what symptoms you do or do not have.

Photo credit: SewCream, Shutter

Taking care of your mental health at university

Go easy on yourself

Mental health struggles can make simple tasks feel overwhelming, so don’t overload yourself. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to be productive all the time (especially during the pandemic!), so do what you can in manageable chunks. Good grades are important, but nowhere near as important as your wellbeing. Take care of yourself and seek help when you need it.

Joining a club or society can be a great way to do something you enjoy and boost your mood. If you meet nice people, it can create a community to fight loneliness or homesickness. However, don’t take too much on – you don’t have to say yes to every social activity or study group. Make sure to relax and spend time in your own space as well! It can be hard to focus when this living space is untidy, so try to de-clutter. Clean up mess, and open windows to let fresh air in.

Let’s get physical

Your mental health is strongly tied to your physical health, so try to eat as healthily as possible. There are lots of resources online for how to do this cheaply and easily. Exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing when your energy is low. Nonetheless, just 15 minutes of movement can make a huge impact on your mood, especially if you manage to spend the time outdoors. With impending deadlines and nights out, it’s unlikely you’ll be getting the recommended eight hours of sleep. However, try to establish a healthy pattern when you can. And when you do go out, remember to drink sensibly.

You know you best

Find outlets that work for you – this could be running, baking, arts and crafts or something else. Do whatever you know will lift your mood and calm you down. Keeping in touch with friends you had before you got to campus is a good way to maintain your social interactions. It can also be a helpful reminder that a world exists beyond your university (sometimes easy to forget!). There are lots of apps out there that can help with mental health struggles, like Headspace, Calm and Worrytree.

The most important advice is to seek support early if you’re ever struggling with your mental health at university. Don’t leave it until you’re at crisis point – there are lots of people and services out there that have your back.

Photo credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

What help is available?

It can be hard to open up to family and friends about how you’re feeling, but it can also be a huge relief. Don’t feel like a burden; your loved ones are there to help you and hear you out.

To find out what support is available through your university, contact student services or look on their website. Your university’s wellbeing service can provide a listening ear and signpost you towards more services. These might include appointments with dedicated mental health advisors, drop-in counselling or mindfulness sessions, and support groups. Some institutions have their own phone helpline, de-stressing sports activities, and animal therapy sessions!

If you’re seriously worried about your mental health, it’s essential that you visit a doctor. They can give you a medical diagnosis and a referral to appropriate services. If you think it’s affecting your work, have a chat with your personal tutor or somebody in charge of your pastoral care. You can express your concerns and make a plan for the future. Once when I was going through something hard as a student, I spoke to my tutor even though I hadn’t felt any negative impacts yet, just to flag it up. You can also apply for mitigating or extenuating circumstances for any exams or coursework you think could be affected.

Organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Papyrus, Sane and Student Minds provide excellent advice and guidance. There are also multiple free support lines that you can call at any time to talk about anything that’s getting to you. Call the Samaritans at 116 123, or text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258.

The freebie guide to freshers’ week

The freshers’ fair is a crucial staple of freshers’ week – wandering around a big hall or gazebo, 700 flyers in hand, trying to decide if you want to commit yourself to the Quidditch team or the Cheese Society. Make sure to go with an open mind, hungry tummy, and empty backpack. As well as being a great chance to discover all the different activities on offer, you’ll leave drowning in freebies.

Coupons and vouchers will come in handy later, but the physical giveaways are great for stocking up your room, kitchen, and pencil case. Whether you’re a returning student or you’ve just got your A Level results, check out our guide for the very best of the free haul! 

Click here for more advice on making the most of freshers’ week

Food glorious food

The people running every stall know that the foolproof way to a student’s heart is through their stomach. Both uni clubs and businesses will try to leave a sweet aftertaste with you, so look out for sweets, chocolates and doughnuts. At some campuses, you’ll find supermarkets handing out goody bags of student essentials like beans and noodles. Take them back to stock up your kitchen, and save money and stress later!

Domino’s and Pizza Hut visit a lot of freshers’ weeks with a deal for free pizza slices. If you see them, don’t hold back! Keep an eye out for deals and vouchers from other restaurant chains and local eateries. They’re all waiting to welcome you to your new home city.

Photo credit: Y. A. Photo, Shutterstock

Kitchen freebies

Look out for branded mugs, water bottles, flasks, and pint glasses. With enough random giveaways, you’ll be able to go a whole week without washing anything up – win! Some people find cooking utensils and other important supplies at the freshers’ fair, which will save you a desperate supermarket trip down the line.

Fridge magnets are surprisingly useful. How else would you stick up all your takeaway menus, or remind your flatmates that your leftover sushi is NOT up for grabs? Bonus points if they double up as a bottle opener or other device.

Gadgets and gizmos a-plenty 

While businesses and societies want to entice you in with food, they also want to gift you techie things you’ll actually appreciate and use. While you’ve probably got a set of headphones and a portable phone charger, it’s good to have a spare or two (or five!). Some stalls will also have things like USB sticks and splitters. We bet you’ve been meaning to buy yourself one of these but never got around to it, so take them all.

Freshers’ week stationery

Does anyone buy pens anymore? You’ll probably receive a lifetime supply of highlighters, biros, and other stationery handouts at the freshers’ fair. If you’re lucky, you might find an academic planner or a wall calendar. These will help you keep track of the whirlwind of activity that makes up a uni term.

While you can’t write with a stress ball, they’re (unfortunately) library essentials. Hang onto them and to anything else that could calm you down in an essay crisis. 

Photo credit: Firina, iStock

Miscellaneous

Brands will put their name on anything they can get you to carry around. It’s free advertising for them, but you’ll also benefit from a new pyjama T-shirt or a pair of socks. Tote bags are eco-friendly and useful for transporting your stuff around campus. And of course, umbrellas are a must-have in the unpredictable UK climate!

Some freebies new to the tables in 2021 might include masks and hand sanitiser gel. Whether you’re avoiding the freshers’ flu or something more sinister, stay safe and happy at uni with these supplies.

Catch us at your freshers’ fair! 

Proprep will be all over the country during freshers’ week 2021. We hope to see you at one of the following locations…

  • Uni of Edinburgh – 13th Sept
  • Uni of Glasgow – 14th Sept
  • Uni of Exeter – 17th Sept
  • LSE – 20th Sept
  • Uni of Manchester – 20th Sept
  • Uni of Leeds – 21st Sept
  • QMUL – 22nd Sept
  • Uni of Nottingham – 22nd Sept
  • Swansea Uni – 22nd Sept
  • Kings College London – 23rd Sept
  • Uni of Liverpool – 23rd Sept
  • Uni of Kent – 24th Sept
  • Uni of Surrey – 24th Sept
  • Uni of Bristol – 25th Sept
  • De Montfort Uni – 27th Sept
  • Uni of Warwick – 28th Sept
  • Newcastle Uni – 28th Sept
  • Cardiff Uni – 30th Sept
  • UCL – 2nd Oct
  • Imperial College London – 5th Oct
  • Uni of Oxford – 6th Oct

…and more! Can’t wait to meet you all!