Want to go from a revision novice to a study expert before GCSE mocks even begin? We’ve put together our top tips for those who have never revised before.

Start by not panicking and taking a deep breath, you can do this revision thing. Hundreds of thousands – in fact millions – of students have done it successfully – you can too.
Anyone can revise and revise well. You just need motivation, organisation, a bit of thought and our step by step guide:

1. Right, what are you actually revising for?Revising

The first thing you need to know are the details of the exam, test or assessment.
• When is it? (Day, time, place, length?)
• What format is it? (Essay, multiple-choice, short answer, practical?)
• What topics will it cover?
• How will it be marked? (What skills and knowledge is the teacher looking for?)
Not sure? Then find out. Maybe this information has already been given to you or you can ask your teacher.

2. Organisation is key

Not as tough as it might seem.
You know what you have to learn. You know when the exam is. You know how much time there is.
Nobody is able to revise all the time every day so work out realistically what times you can revise. Divide the days up into sessions and start to allocate topics to those sessions.
Leave a few sessions clear directly before the exam to go over everything.

3. Gather your notesOrganizing

You’re going to need some materials to revise from; notes, a textbook, a website, videos – something that contains a record of the information you need. Any past examples of the test or exam are really useful too. They allow you to get in some valuable practice.
If you’re not sure - ask your teacher, that’s what they’re there for.

4. Find your own style

You’ve never revised before – but there may have been times when you’ve learned something successfully. If you can think of some, remember what method worked for you then. Can you use a similar approach now?
Most students don’t learn very effectively by simply reading through notes or a textbook. Better to do something that means you have to put the knowledge into your own words – this means you’ll be thinking about it.
You could make your own notes from a textbook or summarise each page of your notes in one paragraph or a series of bullet points.
Lots of students like to make cards. These might have questions on one side and answers on the other or key terms on one side and definitions on the other.
In general revision usually involves making a short record of what you have to learn. You learn from making these revision notes and then you can use them to check how much you know.
Different students learn in different ways so experiment with a few approaches to see which work best for you.

More on TSR:

Make your own flashcards on TSR

Find past papers


5. Revise. Test. Repeat Studying

Is your revision actually working? If it isn’t there’s no point in fooling yourself into thinking it is.
You’ll only really know what you’ve learnt by testing yourself (or getting somebody else to test you) and being totally honest about the results.
Start each revision session with a test on what you’ve learnt before. If you don’t remember something, go over it again – it’s time well spent as repetition of learning really works.
As the exam gets nearer the tests should get longer, covering more and more until the day before when you should know most things.

6. Keep calm and carry on

Revision rarely goes exactly according to plan. Some days it gets very frustrating - you feel you’re just not learning anything, can’t settle down to work or keep getting distracted.
These feelings are inevitable as revision can be a stressful time.
Take a short break: clear your head, maybe do some exercise, drink some water, eat something, talk to someone – clam down and clear your ahead.

You’re doing fine.


More Revision help on TSR:

Revision hub


What works for you? What advice would you give to someone who’s never revised before?