12 revision tips everyone can learn from the very best students

Students working together

Do you want to do brilliantly in your exams this year?

We've scoured the current Grow your Grades blogs to find out the things that the best students are doing right now.

Here are 12 ways you can study smart and boost your grades when exams come around:

1. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve 

Planning can be detailed or just a quick bullet point list. It can be daily, weekly or just for a one-hour revision session. It’s always worth thinking about what your aims are.

NiamhM1801 says: "My six goals are to drink more water, improve my mental health, focus more, stay on top of work, visit Durham Uni, and get enough sleep."

2. Use a range of revision methods 

Different subjects and different exams test different kinds of knowledge and skills. It’s unlikely that one revision method will work for everything.

misstiah_h says: "I've been reviewing my mocks, watching YouTube revision videos, learning quotes, and practicing past papers."

3. Think about learning 

The more you reflect on feedback from your teachers and the ways of learning that work for you, the more your marks will improve.

Cactus Starbright says: "Instead of re-reading Othello, I thought it would be a better use of my time to read the York Notes study guide instead, as it's more important that I learn the analytical points."


4. Plan ahead 

For most of our Grow your Graders, exam success isn’t the result of a last-minute panic. They’re already planning how they’ll organise revision.

emduck says: "I want to try and stick to my schedule. I mean I won't fuss if I miss one or two revision sessions or if I decide to do revision earlier instead of later for example. One thing it’s made me realise is how little time is left before my exams."

5. Learn from your mistakes 

We all make mistakes. But the top students use those mistakes to help them improve.

Senrab15 says: "After receiving the big fat U grade I’m feeling a bit down. I'm going to speak to my head of year to try and request some extra help or something."

emduck says: "I am not going to draw out on why I did badly any longer, just accept it and move on. I am going to go through it again and learn from my mistakes and focus on the areas I struggled with during half term."

6. Make stuff happen 

The best students don’t just let the world pass them by. They take opportunities, ask for help and accept responsibility for their own exam results.

Cactus Starbright says: "I bought a dictophone and I started to use it to record myself speaking French so I can see what I need to improve on (e.g. accent, pronunciation, not leaving massive pauses)."

7. Accept some procrastination 

Yes, let’s admit it. There’s loads of other stuff we want to do more than revise. We all put stuff off. 

Pentaquark says: "Did some light exercise for an hour and then procrastinated quite a lot doing other things."

8. Use your friends 

You’re not alone. The people around you – friends, family, teachers – can help. Swapping notes, testing you, giving advice – every little helps.

EstelOfTheEyrie says: "I met up with a friend and we finished the initial run through of A Streetcar Named Desire. She's planning to place all our notes on an A3 mindmap which she'll photocopy and give me a copy."


9. Notice your mental and physical state 

Doing well isn’t just about your academic work. Your mind and body also need to be working well.

mollyjoy1998 says: "I have noticed that I have been getting dry skin, which is my initial sign of stress. Need to stop thinking about grades and think about just doing my best."

Pentaquark says: "My revision space currently – sofa and library on weekends. My main form of procrastination – Instagram and Facebook games. My mood most of the time – fairly chilled and smiley."

10. Take time off 

Everyone needs regular breaks.

emduck says: "I haven't got any plans for tomorrow as I just want to take a day off as I am exhausted."

11. Accept that things go wrong sometimes 

The build up to exams is a high pressure period. Don’t think you’ll get through without a few blips – maybe low motivation, maybe struggling with a course, maybe getting some bad marks. If you can use these moments as an opportunity to improve, do so. If you can’t – they will pass.

Scitty says: "I feel like all the progress I made in chemistry has gone out of the window. It might just be because I'm over-tired, but honestly... I don't know. I want to believe I can do it, but I feel really adrift at the moment and like I'm trying to do so many things at once."

12. Get on with life 

Yes, exams are coming. But don’t abandon all the things you do. Carrying on with life is important to keep your spirits up. Exams aren’t everything.

buzzyambee says: "I made a study timetable where we fill in our hobbies, jobs and commitments in first and added in study sessions in the time in between. It's not good being completely stressed out with revising 24/7 and also have time to fit in my horse riding, singing practice, job and generally not shutting myself away from humanity."

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