How to do as little revision as possible and get good grades

The Alternative Revision Guide

Ok – You need good grades but there are 100 things you would rather be doing than studying and revising!  This is the revision guide for you.

So first the bad news – You will have to revise to get the grade you want.  The studies show it, teachers know it, and deep down you know it as well.  So how do you spend as little time as you can revising and still get a good grade?

Our 5 steps below will help you spend as little time as possible revising, while still getting great grades!


1.     Set yourself up to revise quickly

- Know what you need to learn – Get a list of topics, notes, and past papers from your teacher or from the exam board before your start

- Get any relevant textbooks or online materials

- Schedule time to revise – A revision timetable works for a lot of people but if this doesn’t work for you, then go with a goal based approach – “By Wednesday I need to know topic x”

- Find a place where you work effectively, it can be a pain but ask yourself, would I rather spend an hour in the library working well, or 3 hours at home to get the same amount of work done

- Work out when you work best – Are you better at detailed things in the morning or better at essay writing in the afternoons, work it out and revise accordingly


2.     Revise, don’t fake revise!!! 

Revising is about two things, learn things you need to know and learning how to use the information to answer questions.  Don’t waste your time doing anything else.  Some classic “Fake Revising” techniques that I am sure you are familiar with are:

 - Making your notes really, really pretty with coloured pens and highlighters

- Studying with the TV/computer on

- Studying while chatting with your friends, whether it be in person, snapchat, facebook etc

- Thinking that reading is revising – Rule - If you can write it in your own words afterwards it’s revising, if you can’t you are just reading

- Thinking that writing (and rewriting!) notes is revising – Again, if you can’t write it in your own words afterwards you are not revising

- Revising or learning things, not on the syllabus – Why would you do this?


3.     Questions, Questions, Questions

The only real way to see if you know something is to answer questions on it without notes.  So you need to take some time during your revision to test yourself.  Some questions tips:

a) Take a paper or some questions near the start of your learning to see “where you are up to” – Your school mock exams can do the same thing

b) Don’t use most of the rest of your past exam papers until later, that way you are genuinely testing whether you know something

c) Understand how the paper is structured so you spend time on the most important areas! Your teacher or tutor can help you with this


4.     Find what works for you

Everyone, including parents and teachers, has a view of the best way to revise – They are trying to be helpful but you need to find what works for you – Some tips to help you recognise good and bad advice:

- Parents helping you with revision – Ok, this one is sensitive.  Your parents know loads of things in many areas, but this can be dangerous unless they know the syllabus.  Don’t let them teach you things that aren’t on the syllabus, it’s wasting your time!

- Exam questions should be done under “timed” conditions – Absolutely do this in the days before your exam, don’t worry about it before then.  Revising is learning what you want to say first, then learn how to say it quickly

- Ignore your friends who tell you they “Don’t study and still get good grades” – They are either lying or they will get a rubbish result, either way, they won’t help you get the grades you want


5.     Use learning shortcuts!

There are lots of things you can do learn more quickly – Here are a few of our favourites

 - – Get quizzes where you can test what you know

 - - Get flashcards and notes that help with revision

 - Exam Boards – Often provide past papers and sample papers with mark schemes (AQA, SQA, WJEC, Edexcel)

 - – Get a tutor, they can provide a dedicated 1-2-1 study time to learn all the key things that you need to know to pass the exam, they can also help mark your questions and provide you feedback on your progress


Final thought

You will have received all the normal final thoughts like “Only you are responsible for your revising” etc – Which is true but a bit dull.  So here is our final thought. 

“Any idiot can get bad grades and any fool can spend every waking moment studying when they don’t need to.  Smart people study effectively, and walk into the exam knowing how to get the grade they want”