Tips on how to successfully prepare for an exam

This article was updated by the Great British Mag editorial team on 29 April 2022

Sitting an exam isn’t a pleasant experience but good preparation can help you manage your nerves and achieve the grades you want. In this article, we give you a step-by-step guide on how to successfully prepare for an exam.

Create a revision plan

Plan a timetable by downloading our revision schedule. It will help you map out what to revise and how much time you will need.

TIP: Dedicate at least a week to each topic you have learnt in class, create a daily schedule and break down your learning into bite-sized chunks.

Shrink your notes

One of the best ways to revise is to take all your lectures notes and reading materials and try to shrink them into flashcards. This is an extremely useful way of becoming a master on the topic you are revising. After all, reducing a major topic into a few bullet points requires you to fully understand it.

Don’t worry if it takes you many attempts to shrink your notes, this isn’t a waste of time because every time you read your notes and try and distil them further your brain is remembering more and more of the detail.

TIP: Turn your notes into mind maps and stick them on a wall.

Revise little and often

Revising little and often will serve you better than doing a mammoth cramming session once a week. Set yourself challenging but reasonable daily targets to keep yourself motivated.

TIP: Test whether you understand what you are revising by delivering a lecture to yourself or to your peers.

Remove tempting distractions

Taking regular breaks will help you revise more effectively, although it’s still important to remove distractions so you can stay focused between breaks. For example, put your mobile on silent, don’t be tempted to check your social media and have an uncluttered desk.

TIP: Create a study zone free of distractions and where you have everything you need for your revision.

Use revision hacks

Using revision hacks will help you make the process less painful, but with hundreds to try, knowing which ones will work for you is a matter of trial and error. For inspiration, head over to our guide on the best-proven revision hacks.

TIP: Record yourself talking about the topic you are revising so you can listen to it wherever you are!

Use revision apps

Technology is your friend when it comes to revising and there are some good apps that will help you revise more successfully. For a lowdown on which ones you should bother downloading head over to our guide of the best exam revision apps.

Revise with others

If you choose the right study partners revising with others will help you rather than be a distraction. You can test each other, deliver mini-lectures to one another and keep each other motivated.

TIP: Set ground rules and choose study partners that complement the way you like to revise.

Look after yourself

Sleep and eat well. When we’re asleep our brains consolidate what we’ve learnt. Plus, you need to be fresh to absorb the info in the first place. A tired body means a tired brain!

TIP: Don’t be tempted to study the night before your exam. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a filling meal before your exam.

You may also want to read:

How to manage exam day stress

5 best apps to help you revise for your exams

11 revision techniques proven to work