Whether you’re studying for your A-level exams or medical school exams this summer, the motivation to get out of bed, go to school or university AND actually consolidate your learning through revision is something we all struggle with!
These are my tips to motivate yourself to revise and a few ways to learn your content effectively.
1. Maintain a good work-life balance during ‘revision season’
I lose motivation when I have nothing to look forward to but doing more revision – this can be very counter-productive! To make it easier to motivate yourself to revise, you should break up your learning with hobbies or fun things you enjoy doing. For me, it’s very important to not isolate myself from my family and friends – you do not need to be revising 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Revision is really about quality and not quantity.
Revise smart NOT hard!
A good way I approach a large amount of revision is focus each day on a subject (sometimes I find that creating a revision timetable is useful as it means you aren’t feeling scatter-brained about where to start). Try and work for 2 parts of the day: for example, morning to late afternoon or late afternoon to evening and use your spare time to do what you like. You can take a morning off to sleep in or spend an evening with your friends. You’ll feel less guilty about it because you would have put the solid work in during the day.
2. Reward yourself after every exam… but don’t slack!
Most of us have more than one exam and must not burn ourselves out or have too much fun before the next. It’s important to reward yourself with a small treat or some time out after one exam before your next one comes around. Have your favourite food for dinner, meet up with friends or give yourself one day/few hours off from studying. This will re-energise and re-motivate you to tackle your upcoming exams.
3. Use different revision techniques for your subjects/topics
Different types of revision can be tailored to different subjects and the variety will keep you on your toes and help you stay motivated and on top of things as you’re revising. Mind-maps are a great way to write out complex and detailed biological processes whereas flashcards are perfect for learning quick facts and figures like the total number of chromosomes in a human cell or the date Henry VIII was born! Below is some more information on these techniques:
Creating Mind-maps or posters
Mind-maps are a creative way to organise your notes about a topic or particular process on 1 sheet of A4 or A3 paper. These are much easier to look at and take with you on exam day and you will find that you learn a lot of content as you create them. I find that creating posters and putting them up in my bedroom encourages me to look at them and refer to them if I’m ever studying and forget a few facts/figures here and there.
Mnemonics and mental associations
Mnemonics are a good way to learn names, short processes and relationships. However, basing all of your revision on mnemonics can get you very confused when it comes to examinations (I wouldn’t recommend mnemonics for learning anatomy, for example, because there is just SO much to know!). Mental associations with unique scenarios, images or things you enjoy are a popular way to memorise content.
Flash Cards + quizzing yourself (handwritten or online)
Flashcards can be one of the most effective revision techniques if used correctly.
The most important part of revision is NOT the note-taking or textbook-reading but it is the consolidation and understanding of that knowledge and being able to answer questions about it. I create my own online flashcards using the programme Anki and use these to test myself BEFORE attempting past papers. The programme also automatically shuffles cards, so you practice the flashcards you DON’T know more often than the ones you have mastered. If you have exhausted your past paper question bank or are tired of doing them, flash cards are a quick and easy alternative. Quizlet is also a great site for ready-made quizzes to test yourself.
4. Think towards the future… what am I going to do when exams are over?
Having something great to look forward to when all your exams are over is always a good motivator. When I finished my A-Levels I travelled to Malta with family and planned my subsequent gap year (which included a lot of travelling too!). Keeping this in mind kept me on track to do well in my exams. Although travelling is always fun, it could be just looking forward to all the free time you have coming up in the summer!
This is not an extensive list but just a few things to help you KEEP GOING! The 2 year journey of A-levels is short but intense – rise to the challenge and make sure you succeed! Good luck!
- Jessica O’Logbon
We have a number of useful blog posts to help as we approach Exam Season! Check them out below: