All those subjects, all those exams. The days are ticking by and motivation can be a struggle...
Look no further, because this is our guide to making a decent study plan to help reduce the stress and get going with your revision.
There's no one size fits all to revision timetables. You might want to write in the pages of your diary, make a checklist, create a beautiful hand-made timetable for your wall or use TSR's tool for creating a planner online.
However you choose to do it, you should begin to feel organised and see the task ahead of you much more clearly once you've made one. Suddenly it all appears a bit more manageable.
So let’s crack on with our 25 tips for making and using revision plans, with plenty of knowledge and quotes from TSR members throughout.
Five reasons for making a revision timetable
First things first, here's a look at some of the benefits of making a revision plan.
1. You get a better idea of how much time you have before the exams
"Make a timetable, checklist or schedule to help you stay on track. If you plan when you'll revise and what you'll focus on, you'll make sure you have enough time to work on everything you need to. There'll be no need for last minute cramming!"
2. It makes you feel better as you have a clear idea of the task ahead
"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."
3. You’re less likely to run out of revision time
"Even the best revision concepts are going to fail if you don't plan out your time properly."
4. It helps you build revision around the rest of your life
"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."
5. A simple plan doesn’t take very long to create
"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."
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."
Five steps to making an amazing revision timetable
...And here's how to make all your study plan dreams a reality.
6. Make a list of all your exams
"First write down a list of all your subjects and write how many hours you would like to spend on them each week (e.g. you might decide you're better at one subject so you will only spend one hour a week on it and a subject you struggle with you might want to spend three hours on broken up in the week)."
7. Prioritise them – how much revision do you want to do for each?
"You're going to need to plan more time on your core subjects and those you need for A-levels. I personally attended every revision session going so that I knew even if I didn't get to revise a subject one week I kept it ticking over."
8. Break each exam up into a series of topics to learn/practise
"Download your specific specification, print it out if you need to, and go through it, checking whether you have learnt everything in there. Tick all the stuff you have learnt and make sure you do learn the stuff you haven't."
9. Decide how much time you want to devote to revision each week
"REALISTICALLY think of how many hours you can do – I do around six to eight hours everyday during the holidays and the weekend and three to four hours after school."
10. Allocate topics into each week (allocating more time to tough topics and leaving some spare time at the end for going through topics again)
"Fill in or cross out the times in the day when you definitely can't revise (I'm assuming school is from 9am-3pm so blank that out of your timetable and if you have any other activities after school then make that clear in your timetable). Put in slots for dinner, sport, free time, relaxing time and sleep.
"Then see what time you are left with and slot in what work you would like to do on what day ( so monday you may decide that from 4.30pm to 5pm you want to do maths and then from 5pm to 5.30pm you might decide to do science and then you might want a break and then from 7pm to 7.30pm you might want to focus on English)."
Put in slots for dinner, sport, free time, relaxing time and sleep.
Five ways to take your revision timetable to the next level
Here's how to go a few steps further when it comes to making and using your plan.
11. Add all the revision sessions to your phone calendar – set notifications
"I use Google Calendar and set up a ton of things I know I need to do. Then pack these into revision days of about six hours of work. When a task is finished I set its colour to green, if I don't finish (or even start as the case may be) I set it to red. This means I know which subjects I am avoiding and hence, the subjects I need to revise the most."
12. Make a timetable for each week and block out all the times you can’t or don’t want to revise
"Fill in compulsory things. For example, fill in the blocks you would need for school (my college is 9am-4pm so they're out). Any set shifts you have at a job (if you have one) should also be filled in. Then go for any club commitments. Finally, fill in your sleep hours. You don't want your sleep unscheduled, or you might be tempted to leave work until later."
13. Make the revision plan really colourful and display it in your bedroom
"You can make one on [TSR], or just type it out onto a Word document into a table and make it all colourful to motivate you!"
14. Build in time to revisit topics
"Be sure to leave yourself some time in the last couple of weeks to do past papers and to go back over any questions you're getting wrong in those."
15. Plan how you’re going to revise each topic
"Everyone is different but plan what you actually are going to do in each session. For me it worked better to have it so I didn't just write 'maths', but instead wrote 'maths past paper 2012' or something."
Leave yourself some time in the last couple of weeks to do past papers and to go back over any questions you're getting wrong in those.
Five things to avoid when making a revision timetable
Here's what not to do to make sure you're getting the most out of your plan.
16. Making it so elaborate that it takes you longer than the actual revision
"When you want to do some revision, just think to yourself the subject that you should probably do some of and do it. Then next time you revise, ask yourself the same question. That way you will never revise too much or too little since you ask yourself each time what subject you need to revise."
17. Setting yourself so much work it ends up totally unrealistic
"So you're doing three hours a night of revision on top of your homework as well as waking up at 4.30am to do an hour's revision? Damn, you're not getting enough sleep with that, honestly take my advice and do less revision but more sleep, it'll be more effective."
18. Making the plan as a distraction from actually revising
"I think making very rigid and complex timetables can be a form of procrastination, though."
19. Having no intention of ever paying any attention to it once it’s made
"Personally I found it better to make my own as I could take into consideration my other commitments and the different times I prefer to do revision. For me, the ones I made on websites were less useful, but it's a good idea to use a template."
20. Thinking it’s perfect and will never need to change
"I personally find revision rather spontaneous where I would just feel like revising and getting work done."
When you want to do some revision, just think to yourself the subject that you should probably do some of and do it.
Five tips for sticking to a revision timetable
And finally, here's how to make sure you keep to your plan as much as possible.
21. Check it every day
"I did 10 hours a week, and varied the hours every day depending on my mood."
22. Remember it’s flexible – change it when needed
"I really dislike rigid timetables as they do not tailor learning to how you're currently performing so I will change my timetable the day before to suit what I most need to study."
23. Share it with friends and family
"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."
24. Reward yourself after each revision session
"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."
25. Tick off topics when they’re done
" I find it helpful to just have a list of topics, homework and other stuff and just ticking them off when you're done."
I will change my timetable the day before to suit what I most need to study.
10 facts about TSR's study planner
- Automatically adds as many one hour revision sessions for each exam as you request
- Builds revision up as the exams get closer
- Only timetables revision in the hours you want to study
- Builds revision around your classes, holidays, study leave and social activities
- Adds breaks where it can
- Can easily be adapted as things change
- Enables you to plan each revision session
- Notifies you about revision sessions if you wish
- Can be made as colourful as you like
- Prints off as pdf files