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How NOT to revise

How to revise (or more like, how not to revise…)? As students, we ask ourselves this question all the time. Instead of finding a useful answer, we end up Googling “what does my birthmark mean for my future?”. Not exactly productive or in any way working, unless your essay question is a 30 marker on why your birthmark looks remarkably like a young Mike Tyson. 

Students sometimes take years to devise an effective revision strategy, often consisting of a hard 6 pack of Carlsberg, while binge-watching The Last Five Years on Netflix (for the 3rd time in a month). It’s no secret that the most successful students aren’t necessarily the ones who study the longest hours or sacrifice a personal and social life. Rather, the lucky few tend to be great time managers, planners and strategists.

If you aren’t any of these things you’ll now know what not to do when revising after reading this guide. That’s a great step in the right direction. 

Partying during exam season

This should go without saying! However, it’s an important one to start with. As boring and old school as it might sound, there’s a reason why your parents are phoning more at 10 o’clock at night during exam season than they do any other time of the year. If you are going out boozing you can write off a good 2 days of revising (spent in a dark room, eating a lamb kebab and trying to forget last night’s decisions). 

Pulling all-nighters

It’s true that most students pull their fair share of all-nighters, but you definitely don’t want to be doing this during your exam period. Why? Because you don’t want to be in a position where you oversleep and miss your exam. Pulling all-nighters fuelled by coffee and Red Bull also adds to the risk of your energy crashing during the exam (and no one wants to be woken up by an angry exam supervisor). 

To avoid the need for an all-nighter entirely, make sure you have a realistic revision timetable set up and that you work consistently throughout the academic term/year.

To learn more about how then check out our guide on time management to help.

If you are reading this guide the night before your exam looking for some last minute inspiration then time to get back on to some late night Youtube videos.

Revision not going your way? Worried about what you will be doing after graduation? Don’t sweat it! Let find internships, graduate schemes and graduate jobs that are waiting for you and let you get back to revising!

Making notes from just one source

Studying and making notes from just one source will not give you a full understanding of your subject nor will it help you get a good grade. This is because lecturers are looking for different sources and examples in your exams and assignments to show a broad argument on the point you are making. A good way to think about this is the old school teacher line “Point, evidence, explain” or PEE… so PEE all over your essays and exams with different sources and take that 2.2 to a 2.1 or that 2.1 to a first and if you are already on a first, good job! 

Making notes from one source is the same as if a judge were to decide a verdict after just hearing only one testimony or one side of the story. It just doesn’t make any sense. By gathering information from many sources you’re not only making sure that the information you have obtained is correct but also that you are getting a full understanding of the topic.

What you might find useful is adding notes to your lecture notes with information from textbooks and or perhaps scientific journals. So, read back over your lecture notes, then add to them with other sources you researched.

Only reading through textbooks or notes

Reading through the textbook and your notes is something many students do during their high school exams. However, at university level, this is probably one of the worst ways to revise. 

Textbooks at university are often used for students at all levels of their study, so if you only study the textbook you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all the knowledge. 

On the other hand, if you only revise from your notes, you might find yourself missing some crucial information that you need or misunderstanding a concept completely. Notes often contain the key information but to get the full understanding of a topic you will have to go through other sources.

Binge on junk food and energy drinks

This is something all students have been personally guilty of doing. During most final year undergraduate exams especially you might accidentally go an entire week without a proper meal and only eat sweets and snacks during the exam period. Not only does this diminish the summer bod goals but you will eventually end up feeling exhausted, completely drained and out of energy. This method is just very unhealthy!

The best thing to do over the exam period is to bring some healthy snacks, eat proper meals even do some exercise. This way you are also creating a good routine during your exam period. Whether it’s running on the treadmill, having a swim or going for a run outside, fresh air and an endorphin rush will help you focus. You’ll be surprised that even short bursts of exercise can help with your overall productivity! Of course, a bit of chocolate every now and again is always appreciated!

At we hope these ‘ways not to revise’ will improve your revision over the exam period and help you achieve the best!