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Undergraduate Study

Revision tips and tricks

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Sleep. Eat.                  REVISE. REPEAT.

There’s no two ways about it, revision season is tough! You’ve totted up how many hours of exams are ahead of you, your notes are piled up and you’ve got a countdown on your phone to when it’s all done and dusted – so at some point you should probably start actually, well, revising? If you don’t have your head in the game yet, don’t panic! We’ve gathered a wealth of revision tips from our current students; so here it is, from one generation of Essex students to the next.

Revision - where do I even start?

We asked our students for tips on how to revise and they answered in their droves. Here are some of our favourite pieces of revision advice to help you tackle revision season:

Put your phone down. No seriously, put it down.

A phone ban whilst you’re revising is most certainly a good place to start. There are even apps out there that reward your tech-detox by planting trees on your behalf – what’s not to love!

Start early and plan your time.

Leaving revision until the last minute is NEVER a good idea. Make yourself a revision timetable and start early – we assure you it will be worth it in the long run.

Split your day up.

Setting yourself up for an 8 hour stretch won’t end well for you. Try splitting your day into chunks and plan what you’re going to do for each of them. Some of our students even use the Pomodoro technique – where you revise for 30/40minutes then break for 15/20minutes, and repeat. It’s a great way to structure your day that keeps your brain engaged.

Change your surroundings.

In line with planning your day, also plan where you’ll be. Perhaps do the morning in your bedroom, but spend the afternoon in the garden or a breakout space at your college? Changing your surroundings will help keep your mind fresh and at its best.

Engage teacher mode.

Hands up if you played schools when you were a kid… Lock yourself away and talk through your notes as if you’re teaching a class. We know it sounds a little odd but seriously, it works.

Make flashcards.

Condensing your knowledge down helps you understand it better as well as memorise it. Start with your class notes then condense them down and down until you can fit key points on a flashcard. Then you can quiz yourself using the flashcards to really test if you know your stuff.

Work with friends (but be selective).

Working in groups is a great way to share knowledge and test one another. However, be careful, if you surround yourself with the friends most likely to distract you, you could end up spending a whole ‘revision’ day chatting about what you’ve been watching on Netflix…

Start with the easier stuff.

Easing yourself in is no bad thing. At some point you’re going to have to tackle the hardest stuff, but if you start with the simpler bits you’ll already have some under your belt when things get challenging. And remember to reward yourself as you hit your goals too – you deserve it!

Get a killer study playlist.

There are loads of pre-built study playlists out there so try one of those or build your own. Just don’t use building a revision playlist to get out of actually revising!

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Your teachers want you to succeed too, so if you really can’t get your head around something don’t be afraid to ask for help! A quick conversation with your teacher might be all it takes for you to have your lightbulb moment.

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Looking for more revision advice?

Why not talk to our current students about revision and exam season (or about life at Essex in general if you'd prefer). Go on, they love a chat.

Chat with our students

How to deal with revision stress

We’d be lying if we tried to tell you that revision season won’t be stressful. We understand the pressure, we really do, and we want to alleviate that as much as possible. Looking after number one should be your top priority throughout revision and exam season, here’s how:

  • Sleep. This is crucial, nobody benefits from sleep deprivation, especially not for revision. So make sure you get your 8 hours as often as possible.
  • Take breaks. Recognise your own pace and stick with it. Challenging yourself is one thing, pushing yourself beyond your limit is something else. Give your body and mind time and space to recover.
  • Exercise. You might want to hit the gym, play squash, practice yoga or just go for a walk? Exercise is like an antidote to stress. You don’t need to enter next year’s marathon, it’s just about taking some time to look after yourself.
  • Be honest with those around you. Don’t be afraid to lean on friends – you’re all in the same boat and a problem shared is a problem halved. And don’t underestimate your family’s support either, you are surrounded by people that love you. Don’t hide your struggles from them.
  • See a GP if things are too much. Revision stress is very normal and natural, however, if you feel like it’s really getting on top of you and you’re finding everyday life a struggle make an appointment to see your GP.
  • And after all this don’t forget that if your worst case scenario does happen and you don’t get the grades you were hoping for, there’s always Clearing and a chance to choose plan B. It’s not the end of the world, we promise!

And don't forget to feed your brain...

An empty stomach and revision are not a good match. Keep your stomach full of the right stuff and you’ll be ready to tackle it all. According to our students, your cupboard should be stocked with:

  • Nuts – almonds and walnuts to be exact.
  • Dark chocolate and fruit (and then more chocolate).
  • Carbs, carbs, carbs; including spag bol, sandwiches and biscuits!
  • Jaffa cakes, need we say more?
  • Fish and broccoli to really feed that brain of yours.
  • And don’t forget to treat yourself, whether that’s a bumper breakfast to set you up for the day or tasty snacks to reward your progress.