How to start revising in five steps

Revision, exercise, essays and personal statements all have one thing in common: they’re famously hard to start. As it gets closer to your exam date, you’re probably starting to wonder how you’re going to tackle all that revision, so here’s our handy guide to get your revision off to a flying start in five simple steps.

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1) Prioritise

We all know which subjects we prefer and which ones we dread turning up to class for. The trick is to take the subjects you really don’t like and spend a bit more time on them as they’re likely to be the subjects that trip you up.

2) Do one past paper for every subject

If you’re not sure how much you actually know about a subject, then doing a past paper is the quickest way to identify your knowledge gaps. Answer every single question as best as you can but make a note of the questions you struggle with. Then mark yourself and revisit the questions you struggled with. See if you were close with your answers and from that you’ll be able to tell what you need to improve on.

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3) Read examiners' reports

These are published alongside past papers and mark schemes and are basically a review of how students did on that exam and what the examiner was looking for on specific questions. That’s right, there are freely available documents online where examiners tell you what they’re looking for! The examiners' reports also show which questions tripped students up and in some cases how they could have improved their answers.

Examiners' reports are based on past papers, but you can use them as a guide on how to answer certain questions or respond to certain topics, so they’re well worth a read.

4) See what you need to revise

Use steps one to three to see where your weaknesses are and write them all down. Do your best to be as specific as possible; you might not like English, but is it specifically your analysis of Shakespeare that’s letting you down? Getting the hardest topics out of the way first means that you’ll be more relaxed when you get closer to the exam, but don’t forget to make time to revise for the things you’re confident in too!

5) Make a plan

Plan, plan and plan some more! You’ve already dipped your toe in your revision but it’s time to jump in the pool. Try and get at least one revision session per subject per week and see what time works for you. Make a timetable or find a template online, like this one we’ve made here. We've also got lots of planning tips like how to plan your revision, like our advice on how much revision you should be doing per day.

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Worried about exams? Get a free guide!

If you're worried about your upcoming exams, look no further. Download your free revision guide and get top exam tips, advice and handy revision hacks!

Download your free guide