Revision tips: getting organised

By making a plan and organising your time, you can divide your revision into manageable chunks. This will increase your chances of remembering the important things, help with better exam performance while avoiding last minute stress.

What you need to know

Make your revision plan as early as possible. This will allow you to work out how much time to spend revising each day and just as importantly, when to take breaks. Find out when your exam is and work out how much time you have until then. If you don't know the date of your exam, ask your teacher. You can also search for exam dates online using the Interboard Examination Timetable.

Write a revision checklist

Start by dividing the number of days you have until the exam by the number of topics you need to revise. Ask your teacher for a list of topics, or make your own by going through your notes.

Think about any topics that will need more revision time - perhaps they are more detailed, or you found them more difficult than others.

Make a revision plan

When you know how many days you need to revise for each topic, you'll be able to make revision part of your daily routine. However, you need to be realistic about the time you have:

  • mark on the plan those things you need to do, such as being at school and mealtimes
  • split the remaining time into half-hourly slots
  • break each topic on your revision checklist down into smaller pieces that can be learnt in 30 minutes, fill your slots with these pieces

You can find templates for daily, weekly and monthly planners at Revision: timetables and planning.

The BBC BiteSize revision guides will help you to break your topics down into 30 minute slots.

Check your local library for resources

Your local library may be a good source for revision material. Curriculum support collections are available in 20 libraries across Northern Ireland. The collections are for anyone studying GCSE, AS and A2 level. They include study guides, revision guides, student handbooks and texts for a range of popular subjects. You can find out more at the Librariesni website.

Reading your revision notes

When you look at your notes, keep in mind why you're reading them.

  • reading for detail is when you need to gain a good understanding of the text and read it at a slower pace than normal and ask questions while you read, it might help if you read it aloud
  • skimming is useful for getting the general idea of a large piece of text - read each paragraph quickly and identify the main ideas in each one
  • scanning is used when you are looking for a specific piece of information - move your eyes quickly over the text, homing in on, sub-headings, names, numbers, dates and quotes for example

Look after yourself

If you're going to stay alert while revising regular breaks are important. A five-minute break every half an hour for you to stretch your legs is better than a 30-minute break after five hours' revision. Get up, make a drink, tidy your room, check the post - you'll come back refreshed and ready to carry on.

These breaks will also help you absorb the information and avoid overload. Include a leisure activity in your revision plan twice or three times a week in order to take your mind off things.

A healthy mind needs a healthy body, so look after yourself while revising. Lots of sleep and regular exercise will help you stay alert. Your body needs fuel, so eat plenty of easily digestible foods - fresh vegetables and fruit, for example, will help keep your energy levels up.

Getting support

If you are experiencing emotional problems, such as issues with family or friends, or bullying, your revision might be affected and you may need to seek outside help. Try to get support before your revision suffers.

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