How to effectively revise with ADHD

If you have ADHD, this might affect your work and ability to stay focused for longer periods of time, making the revision and exam period a tough time. Our Student Support Team have some top tips to make the revision and exam period a little easier for you.

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1. Don’t sit in silence

A lot of revision advice will tell you to find a calm, peaceful environment, and study without the distraction of music or the TV. If you have ADHD, you might benefit from doing the exact opposite.

Having music or a TV show playing in the background while you work can actually help you focus, as it stops your mind wandering and thinking about other things.

2. Mix up your revision technique

To make revision a little more interesting, try a range of different study methods. Spending an hour on the blurting method and the next hour using a study app can keep your mind occupied and engaged.

Check out our favourite study techniques and try a few of them out.

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3. Avoid distractions

Everyone struggles putting their phone down and focusing on their work but if you find that your phone is constantly luring you in, install an app that will reward you for not going on your phone for set periods of time. One of our favourites is called ‘Forest’, the longer you avoid your phone, the bigger your forest grows.

Alternatively, try the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro method helps to break your revision session down into manageable chunks.

For example, if you have 2 hours to revise, break this into four 25-minute sessions with 5-minute breaks between each session.

The breaks will give you something to look forward to and get you through 25 minutes of focusing on revision.

4. Take breaks

If something is pulling your attention away from your work, take a proper break. For example, if you want to watch a video, move away from your workstation, and sit down for 5 minutes to relax and watch the video.

Taking a break will satisfy the part of your brain telling you to do something other than your revision, but, it might be good to set a timer. Setting a timer that signals the end of your break will remind you to go back to your revision, instead of getting side-lined by something else.

5. Reward yourself

Making a list and ticking things off at the end of the day is really rewarding and will help you keep track of your progress. It will help you see that even if you did get distracted during your revision session, you still achieved something and managed to tick it off your to-do list!

If you join BCU, our Student Support Team will work with you to get the support you need. This may include particular exam arrangements, extra time for assignments and other adjustments that can help you during your time at university. Find out about the support available to those with Specific Learning Disabilities.

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Speaker 1: hi my name is Michael and I'm a second year law LLB student here at BCU I was diagnosed with ADHD through the university because we've had suspicions for many many years but it took all the way until I got to University to actually put a nail in the wood and then actually go for it and it went down the disability team and they worked through with me and from figuring that out to actually finding out I'm very possibly dyslexic as well. So I've probably got hand in hand, it kind of answered a lot of questions over nearly two decades. Speaker 2: Hi I'm Harvey I'm studying Sound Engineering and production I'm in my third and final year and I was diagnosed when I was in maybe primary school year four and it was after I got kicked out of school. I didn't know why I got in trouble a lot and then I got tested because the teacher thought that I was a good kid but just kept doing random stuff and then from the that point I was medicated up until college where I decided to get off medication and then since I've been at Uni it's been a case of just you know dealing with my own mentality and how to work alongside University with ADHD and I also have dyslexia Speaker 2: Studying in silence is a killer for people with ADHD, studying with distractions can sometimes help if they're distractions that aren't going to take your focus away from what you're doing. It's more of a background distraction so you keep your brain occupied and stimulated whilst you can still concentrate on the same thing that you want to be focusing on. For me, I like to put records on in the background whilst watching a TV show that I've watched so many times: the office. I used to just have it up and in little corners wherever it may be whilst focusing on what I do or going to a coffee shop without any headphones or anything and just trying to clock into everybody's conversation that helps me quite a lot because then I can focus whilst the back side of my brain is being stimulated, if I don't do this then for me it's a case of I get distracted within the main body of work. I'll just drift off I won't do what I intended to do with the study and I'll just end up you know getting distracted and not knowing where I am what I'm doing so if I have the other distractions that blur all the stimuli around me I can focus more on what I've got in hand Speaker 1: yeah I think I'm kind of similar because it comes to like you have the thing you want to focus on say this piece of course so I call like a bit of an essay and I'll either put music on the background of our headphones on but at the same time even though I can't hear the TV there'll be something on TV something moving, so I can look it from the screen see something, look back down, the work's still there but I can do that thing where you can disassociate or pick things apart so in a song especially, I can pick apart the percussion from everything else so I can focus on the beat tap my foot because then I'm engaged with it but then I'm still fully focused on the work Speaker 2: yeah also with the distractions it's really important to have distractions that are something that can be blurred so not like your phone Instagram things like that get it out of the room out of the room. Tick Tock, Instagram Snapchat any social media anything that's gonna draw your attention so it's in front of you you've got to get it out of the way Speaker 1: if it's away from you you can't yeah go for it Speaker 2: Yeah so it's important to have like that main thing you're focused on and then everything else is just a blurred distraction that isn't going to take your full attention Speaker 1: it's passive Speaker 2: it's something else that's good is having things to fidget with so it's anything like this just touching your fingers I like to mess around with my ring messing around with whatever's around you tapping can be annoying for others but things like that it seems to keep you stimulating in whatever way to keep you focused on the main body of work Speaker 1: The difficult side of it is when you kind of integrate that with like the dyslexia side of things you might be able to rinse this coursework off dead fast but then you would go and read through and you've created words that didn't exist, uh your paragraph don't makes sense, like you might over stimulated yourself to a point where you're like you're comfortable you're working but you're typing so fast that you're like you don't realise you type something that makes no sense but only you can understand it so you have to go through, I've done it before where I'm about to go through with someone explain what it means and that's like kind of reword Speaker 2: it it's a process called rubber ducking you do it in code so basically you go through it you tell it someone else and then you find out what's wrong with it by telling it to somebody else so you explain what you did and with the spelling mistakes it's always good to have something like grammarly or spell check constantly seeing what's red changing it but there's a danger with that if you are dyslexia that you change it to the wrong word, a lot of the time I end up putting goats ghosts and instead of what I'm used to do you know a lot of random words that doesn't make sense in context and when you read it back it doesn't make sense at all. So writing little things for yourself so you know what you're talking about maybe little bullet points of notes things like that to try and understand what you meant to say. Speaker 1: grammarly premium is what I'll use and it's actually really good because like I say I'll type something that might not make the most sense yeah it will change a few words to what they're not supposed to be so I'll get through to type out like my spelling's all right it's just the odd few words it'll trip you up and then it'll read your paragraph essentially for you, condense it down and then say boom, I've saved you some words and now it reads a lot better than it did before Speaker 2: another software read and write gold I don't know if you use that but it basically reads all of your text back to you as well in like loads of different voices that will keep you concentrated because sometimes it's boring sometimes it's too slow it doesn't hit you, another thing watching uh educational videos or something at two times of speed for me I love that yeah Speaker 1: yeah yeah Speaker 2: yeah um where you just keep it keeps coming double speed Speaker 1: you can watch films at double speed too, like woah Speaker 1: being able to focus academically you have to have your breakaway, and this doesn't mean having things on in the background and you're working all this you have to have something that's completely different and for me that's like driving or that's going on a race track or doing things like that you have to ask something that gives you that buzz that satisfies you. Think of it like a sugar rush and when you've been working you've drained yourself out and that will help me recharge Speaker 2: I go to the gym before so you'll get a workout or do some sport whatever it might be tie your body you're out tie your mind out and then when you get to it you're almost drained in a way you can only focus on it Speaker 1: you're like mellow [Music] Speaker 1: when it comes to revision techniques and the way that people remember things, I'll start off with my day-to-day life and this is with a huge A2 piece of paper, I write Monday to Sunday on it and I kind of I try to write down some time frames so on days where I'm at the gym what muscle group want to work on, those are not what I'm going to do during my rest day, then uni what I'm going into uni for breaks times things like this but it's a way of planning out your time to where you think you've got no time left so when you do actually come across some free time it's essentially a reward Speaker 2: on that note of sort of like calendar and scheduling I like to use the teams calendar so I normally set myself like I use my phone calendar teams calendar and Google Calendar sometimes I have shared ones with people that have meetings with I have a lot of things placed on teams so it reminds you 15 minutes before and then also having your calendar with you at all time for me is amazing because if I think I've got free time I normally don't, so I should check my phone and see what it is and then you can check on your laptop make sure you've got a calendar or something visual that you can see at all times so you know what you're doing with your time every day and to the point of habit I think habit's super important to try and get um sort of like a work mindset so you're up before like nine o'clock so you're making sure to make most of the day. I like to say um let us take a hold of the day don't let the day take a hold of you because if you don't start your morning right then you're just going to lose the entire morning until like 12 o'clock Speaker 1: the momentum drops Speaker 2: The momentum drops, you're going to be walking around the house not doing anything and it's really important to get your um strategies in place that suit you and making sure you have habit that might not be related to work but something that gets you out of bed focused and in the mindset of your doing stuff is a really important thing to get you focused, and then on the point of uh study to try and get you to work hard and trying to get you to revise, sometimes working in 30 minute bursts and then giving yourself 10 minute break, 30 minute burst, or however long you think your attention span can last work with it not against it another important thing is when you have um it's called hyper focus when you're in the zone of work or you find something fascinating, don't stop yourself Speaker 1: don't fit you need to oh I've got that break Speaker 2: yeah it works through it exactly and and also even if it's not in the right direction of what you need to be studying at the time it's still important to you know go down the rabbit hole of what you find interesting because maybe in the future that is going to be important Speaker 1: don't compare yourself to others and I know it's a really difficult thing to say because you could have a mate that comes up to you like tomorrow and go well I've revised this unit this unit this unit, they might be able to absorb like a knowledge sponge, I am not a knowledge sponge it doesn't work that way for me. Having it - it's the healthy balance of essentially living your life don't just put yourself on a desk and live at it because, one it's not healthy, two you'll mentally drain yourself and, three you'll wake up in the morning oh great I'm still in the same possible yesterday about 10 foot away from the desk you need to be getting out and you need to be doing different things whether that be having a quad shot of espresso having the caffeine boost and getting out the house but there's something for everyone. Please do not sit at a desk all day doing now because personally for me it'll drive me mental I'd start calling the world's first left in The Big Empty white room with the desk Speaker 2: an important thing to say as well is that ADHD is a superpower, it's something that you can use for your advantage it's not something that is negative it's not something that you need to be worried about it's not something that you need to be constantly thinking oh I'm not doing enough the way that your mind works is the way that it works make sure that the way that you work is with your own mentality so what you're doing has to be within the stride of how you think so and if that's studying that studying hard with those hyper focuses and that's making sure you get that down or if that's networking and communicating with lots of different people you might I end up on a different path entirely but the path that you find is a path that suits you and at University it's a perfect place to experiment it's a perfect place to just find out what you're good at find out what you enjoy and just run with it, just make sure you're doing that hard and just catch up with everything else eventually.