A Student’s Guide To Revision

Revision. Revision. Revision.

In my old age I have grown to accept this concept – not fight it. Revision is now a permanent fixture in my academic calendar. It occurs annually, taking up most of May, and sometimes even trickles into early June.

The problem is, however much revision I do, I just never get very good at it. Maybe it’s my technique. Maybe it’s my commitment. Maybe it’s just that I’m a bit shit at working.

Be honest: how many of you can actually say that you have truly figured out the best and most productive way of learning stuff to pass an exam?


One of the major issues we all face around this time of year is the fact that revision is meant to be, literally, a ‘re-visit’ to things you have already learnt. Effectively, you should already know the syllabus, and by revising you are merely consolidating your knowledge.

However, in reality no proper learning has been done all year, and so we are left to teach ourselves the entire course in the space of a few weeks. You’d think we’d learn, but this has happened for the last 3 years. Oops.

There are several phases one goes through while undertaking their revision. They include:

  • Denial – ‘It’s only April, I definitely don’t need to start revising yet.’
  • Reluctance – ‘I’ll revise for a bit, but then Made In Chelsea is on, and I have to watch it.’
  • Embrace – ‘I genuinely feel like I’m learning something.’
  • Reality – ‘It was only a past paper – who cares that I got 28%.’
  • Excuses – ‘I know so much that revising any more would actually be bad for me.’
  • Worry – ‘Is it possible to un-learn stuff overnight?’
  • Cramming – ‘I can definitely teach myself the entire syllabus the night before the exam – that’s what Red Bull’s for.’
  • Relief – ‘Who cares that I only passed by one mark – I only wanted a B anyway.’

We all have those little friends we call upon during exam season. They’re the equivalent of real-life ‘get out of jail free’ cards. Teachers swear by them and students use them as an excuse to not have to write actual notes


You know, those sumptuous spider diagrams, fantastic flow charts, luscious lists, amazing acronyms, and, er, very (good) Venn diagrams.

Ultimately, we realise that all of these are, in fact, a bit naff and don’t really help much at all. So, in the end we inevitably plump for making notes on notes on notes. On notes.

Our handwriting somehow turns from surprisingly good to disgustingly – almost illegally – illegible, and then we face the age old problem of selecting which words are slightly more highlight-worthy than others.

We never know whether staying up to revise into the early hours the night before an exam is helpful or not, or whether it is better to get a good night’s sleep and put our notes under our pillow – because the knowledge will obviously seep through the pillow and into our brain.

Of course, we opt for the second option as it is better (easier).

After all this trauma, we wake up and question our nerves – after all, the pass mark is only 40%.

We stumble to the exam half-asleep, desperately look for someone in the exam hall who looks worse-prepared than ourselves, and complete the exam with an almost empty bank of knowledge.

Results day then comes, and we regard it as a mild success to have escaped with anything remotely over the pass mark.

Twelve months later – repeat.



2 thoughts on “A Student’s Guide To Revision

  1. You just reminded me of my revision days. I spent quite a bit of time in the denial and reluctance phase. Unfortunately, there wasn’t red bull in the 80’s!
    Cousin Wendy

  2. Hi Daniel
    How right you are about Revision
    Take care

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