What do you do when just about anything else seems more appealing than studying?
Scrolling through social media and organising your entire bedroom can seem like excellent ways to delay the task at hand: revision. But at some point, it’s time to get on with it.
Over to our Grow your Graders – students who document their progress in our blogging competition – who divulge their best tips on how to put an end to procrastination and just start revising.
1. Say hello to PMA (positive mental attitude)
First think ahead, and see yourself getting those high grades. You can do this, it’s achievable!
First, get into a positive mindset. Without getting your mind cleared, no way can you attempt to do revision. Stop thinking about those low marks you got on that unit test. If others can do it, you can too. You just have to give it your best shot.
2. Discover what motivates you
Sometimes I think the most important thing is motivating yourself. If you're not motivated to do well, then you won't be bothered to revise. Maybe you're inspired by religion, music or quotes. Or maybe you need to cut contact with people distracting you and putting you down and surround yourself with people who will support you and motivate you to better yourself.
You need to think of some of the reasons you want to do well also and remind yourself of these when you feel yourself slacking. Perhaps you're aspiring to go to a particular school or enter a certain career. Whether you want to prove people wrong, prove yourself wrong or make your parents proud – remember these things when you're revising.
Your first step is motivation. Motivation for getting the grades in the first place. Perhaps you need the grades to get into your dream university. Picture that university in your mind every time you feel like giving up or procrastinating. Keep thinking of where this will lead to.
This is what helps me the most: Have something such as a picture, quote or anything that keeps you motivated and inspired to revise and do well.
3. Set a goal and work out how to achieve it
Get inspiration and get to work. It's important to discover what you're working towards, but more importantly, its crucial to pan out what it takes to get there. Create a map to meeting your goal (be it a certain number of A*s or a university place) write out what it takes to get there, and start.
4. Pair up with someone else
Find a study buddy. What's better than using peer pressure to force our generation to do something?
5. Ditch the technology
Use a website blocker to block distracting sites for revision time and stay focused.
If you're at university, there's a wonderful app called Hold which allows you to basically lock your phone and rewards you for every 20 minutes that you don't touch it. They have things like NowTV vouchers, a chance to win Amazon and Co-op gift cards, money off technology, cheap cinema tickets etc.
It also has a chart where you can see how long you've studied each day by how long you've been on hold (which makes you realise that you usually only do about three hours when you think you're doing six...).
6. Stock up on food and drink
Have snacks and drinks to hand so you can't use hunger as an excuse to procrastinate and make a four-course meal.
7. Reward yourself
Every time you finish a page/chapter/revision resource, reward yourself (but not too much). This is the way habits are formed: cue, reward, repeat. If you make this into a habit, well, you'll apparently have no trouble at uni.
Reward yourself as motivation. Have a bit of chocolate after achieving a small goal you've set.
8. Make use of real-time study sessions online
Watch study with me videos for motivation.
9. Look forward, not backward
If you didn't get the grades you wanted, don't dwell on it; you can't change the past, but the future is still in your hands.
You should come up with an action plan of what you're going to do to improve on this. Learn from the mistakes you've made in your previous tests to ensure you go into the real exam well prepared.
10. Focus on yourself
DON'T compare yourself to others – honestly, I don't know what's more off-putting.
11. Take short breaks
If you're literally at the point where it's just learning it now, use the 25-5 method. Study for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break. There's free apps you can get so you're not tempted to stay in your break longer. It actually made me feel more productive because I was challenging myself to have learnt up to a certain point by the next break.
Give yourself short breaks every hour or however long it takes you to lose concentration.
12. Try a different learning style
If one day you know you need to revise but can't be bothered, watch videos and talk to friends about the subject.
13. Make a study planner
Keep to a schedule. For half term, I've written out a plan of the week so I can get some work done. Grab a calendar or week planner, mark out the things you have planned/want to do (e.g. open days, going out with friends), and then allocate subjects to the free time you have left. For me, having it written down in a way that shows that I have to do certain subjects on certain days in order to get everything done motivates me to do stuff rather than procrastinate.
Spend time preparing a checklist of work to be done before exams – it means you can have smaller targets to work towards. I tend to procrastinate, so I split these into weekly agenda, and then spend quarter of an hour each night making a day's plan for the day after...
Most importantly, don't spend ages on this – it doesn't directly affect your exam grades, so the less time you spend on it the better – but at the same time, you can know where you need to get to, and then take guilt free time off your work once everything is done...
You can create a revision timetable in a few minutes using our Study Planner tool.
14. Write a daily to-do list
One way to make sure your work is by making a list of things you need to finish by the end of the day.
Keep yourself accountable, write out what you aimed to have gotten done at the end of the day in the morning, in the evening review what you have done and if you've fallen short, critique yourself and address where you've fallen short. This is a lot easier when a friend or family member is holding you to your word.
15. Immerse yourself in revision
You need to immerse yourself in your subjects. So if you do maths, set aside time every day or week to do exercises with friends or alone. Once it becomes part of your routine, doing maths itself will become second nature. This works for everything, languages, music, you name it.
16. Make studying fun
Find something that helps you to concentrate and start to (possibly) enjoy revision. Whether it be listening to some background/quiet music or studying with a friend or making some voice notes that you can listen to on the way to school etc. or so much more, I find that it’s helpful and can aid to maximise your revision.
17. Use music to keep you going
If listening to music helps you try instrumental tracks so the lyrics don't distract you from your work.
Music without vocals really works for me whilst revising.
18. Just start
Simply, just start revising. The biggest hurdle to cross is to actually start it.
The hardest part of revising is starting, so just sit on that table, put your phone away and write something, anything. Three minutes in, you will have your head over the piece of paper totally into it.