Revision secrets of A* students

Top tips for the best grades

Top secret!

Where are the best students talking about how they’re preparing for exams? 

Yes, the TSR Grow your Grades blogs. We’ve been glued to the updates and have picked out six key themes that just might help propel you towards those top grades. 

The best students have clear aims 

Those aims can be for your final grades or for a single 30 minute revision session. The point is that knowing what you want to achieve helps you focus on what’s important for you

I have set the grades I’m aiming for –These push me to work harder than the school’s target grades, especially as I have some low target grades. 

Mr. Macky

My main focus is consolidating and cutting out ANY errors on this paper so I'm aiming for at least 73 on this paper. 



Goals work for me if they’re easily achievable - never start by setting very high goals and expecting yourself to make big jumps in future.


Find out how to set study goals here 

The best students focus on their own improvement 

There’s no point in comparing yourself with anyone else. You’ll probably never be as good as the top student but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe you can get better at any subject and making sure you revise in ways that help you improve.



I write the name of a topic then underneath that writing everything that I remember. Then I use the revision guide to find out what I had forgotten. 



Once I have done a past paper I note the things that I got wrong. I then make revision cards on these areas with the exam question on one side and the answer on the other. 


The only person you should compare yourself with is your past self. Who cares what other people are up to, the time you spend envying their life is time you won't get back.


How to think positively about your exams 

The best students can beat procrastination 

Every person who’s ever revised will have come face-to-face with the procrastination monster. It’s just so hard to do things you don’t want to do when there are so many temptations. How can the monster be slayed? A revision plan you can stick to? Cutting out social media? Sheer determination?

What a lovely sunny day! Wish I could just go outside but work must be done. I have French vocab and organic chemistry sessions today. I'll probably start with the French whilst I'm in a good mood to get it out the way, then eat and crack on with the chemistry, then exercise and watch some football. 


Procrastination is currently at a high. How am I going to combat this? Well I think it's time that I cut social media out of my life or at least put a time limit on how long I use it for... this will require so much will power and discipline but it is so necessary. 

simply_a_ Δ

Find out how to beat procrastination 

The best students vary revision techniques 

Different subjects demand different skills and knowledge. Even within the same subject separate papers can require completely different approaches. 

That’s why it makes sense to vary the way you revise. And when the exam gets close many students use techniques like flashcards which help them with the final ‘cramming’.

It's not going to be easy. Don't look for shortcuts. What you can do however is try to make it fun. So you should be switching up how you revise. This means past papers, long notes, short notes, flashcards, posters, mindmaps, youtube videos.



How I plan to know my stuff inside out 1. Learning - making notes in class, reading the textbook, finding online sources etc.
2. Understanding - make sure you actually understand what you're writing down. If you don't get it, ask your teacher to go over it again, read about it somewhere else, get a friend to explain it.
3. Practising - so once you understand something you should be able to apply it to different situations. I do a load of practice questions, the more you do the easier it gets! 
4. Revising - There's loads of information you need to remember so whatever works best for you. I like cue cards for questions that can be split into points, and condensing information or using acronyms is also really good for remembering specific information.
5. Past papers - it's best to do these in timed conditions without using your notes so you can see exactly what you know. Afterwards you can go back over it and see where you went wrong, and focus revision on these
6. Ace your exams If you go in feeling confident that you have done all the preparation you can then you will do better than doing last minute cramming (my mistake at AS!)

trying and failing

Vary your revision with TSR's revision tools! 

The best students take breaks from revision 

There’s a big danger of ‘burnout’ if you try to revise all the time. That’s why it’s important to keep your normal life going – sport, hobbies, social occasions and so on. You may have to make one or two sacrifices but don’t become a revision hermit.


After lunch I'm going to head out for a run or bike ride, I just seem to have an inability to do work after having had lunch so I may as well do something good



Been writing notes all day today! Going to have dinner and spend the rest of the day relaxing with the family because too much work can have negative effects.


I can’t spend hours revising, so I do 20 minutes and then take a short break. If I start something and really get into it, I just carry on.


Plan your revision with breaks 

The best students aren’t perfect 

No student has ever revised for any period of time without losing focus and motivation at some point. There’s no getting away from the fact that revision is a stressful time. You just need to keep the stress under control so it’s motivating rather than paralysing.




Woopsy, didn't manage to do either of the two last sessions yesterday. Today I'm going to improve on that. I'm heading out for a bike ride first. Then I'm going to get a few annoying, niggly bits of homework done before I leave, then I'll start my revision after lunch


Today has not been a good day. I've been on a huge low in terms of motivation and self-belief. I think it's because my first exam is in 11 weeks and I don’t feel at all prepared so revision has been a massive no. Even though the thought of not reaching my potential is the reason I feel like this in the first place my body decides that revision is a bad idea.


Find out how to keep revision stress under control