Three young people sitting and talking together in a livingroom.

All the revision and exam tips you'll ever need

  • 5 min read
  • 02 May 2019

Topics mentioned: exam stress, self-care, anxiety, self-esteem

About: How can you look after your mental health during exam season? What's the best way to revise? We've gathered all the tips you'll ever need for revision and sitting exams.

Getting ready to sit exams can be a stressful time of your life, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this. We spoke to some young people who have been through this before and gathered all the tips you could need to get through exam season and stay well.

Looking after your mental health in revision and exam season

  • Remember rest is crucial when revising

    "Guilt is a common feeling shared by many throughout the exam season, and a feeling I know all too well. Many people feel guilty when they are doing activities other than revising. As hard as it can feel to do, letting go and relaxing is an important part of the process. After all, having a clear and rejuvenated mind is important."

    - Elsie

  • Write your worries down

    "Write down the things that are stressing you out. This way you can visualise them better. Then, categorise them into things you can solve yourself, and things that may take time or are affected by external factors. This will help you to recognise that some things can be solved relatively easy, and this will take a massive weight off your shoulders."

    - Caitlin

  • Get outside

    "I love a cosy pyjama day, but I am also a great supporter of getting fresh air and sunlight. Nature is surprisingly reviving on those days when you’re feeling a bit urgh. Zombifying in your room may feel comfortable at the time but it can actually sink you into a really negative headspace without you realising it. Whether you’re into sport or not, get yourself moving whenever you feel you can."

    - Martha

  • Plan in breaks

    "Plan your revision around activities, meeting up with friends, and relaxing - not the other way around. When making a revision timetable, firstly begin by filling in fun things which YOU want to do. You can then work your revision schedule around that. Having things to look forward to acts as a motivator to revise, with the knowledge that something enjoyable is coming up."

    - Elsie

  • Stay realistic

    "We all have those days where revision just feels impossible and that is totally okay - listen to your body/mind and look after yourself first and foremost. Doing something small is better than doing nothing. All the little bits add up in the end."

    - Martha

  • Quality over quantity

    "It is far too easy to get trapped into a vicious circle of comparing yourself to your peers. Comparing the number of hours you have worked is meaningless. It is more than possible to work for a shorter amount of time, but more effectively."

    - Elsie

  • Get enough sleep

    "It is really important to get enough sleep and stay in a regular pattern. If you are tired all day, your mental health might suffer and you’ll also find it hard to concentrate properly. It can be tempting to stay up past midnight to finish off that last section, but you’re more likely to remember it if you wait until the morning to finish, rather than depriving yourself of sleep."

    - Caitlin

Revision tips

  • Find a space that works for you

    "If you can, keep your bedroom and revision space separate. Try revising in another space, for example the kitchen or library. By doing this, when you go to your room to relax and sleep, you don’t associate it with anxiety and work. Similarly, moving revision spaces throughout the day and a change of scenery can help to keep your mind alert and active."

    - Elsie

  • Make posters

    "I like to make posters when revising. Seeing them plastered on my walls makes me feel satisfied and gives a sense of accomplishment. It shows me how much I’ve done, as well as encouraging me to do more. It’s also a great way to show your parents that you are revising!"

    - Caitlin

  • Short bursts, not long hours

    "No matter how much of a superhero you feel, you cannot work all day. Divide your day up into productive blocks of revision so that you can comfortably allow yourself the time in-between to do what makes you feel good. Don’t feel guilty for not working dusk till dawn; you are human and should treat yourself like one."

    - Martha

  • Try new methods

    "The monotony of revision and endlessly reading notes can really put us off, so try mixing it up! Flashcards, mind maps, voice notes, videos and even teaching the work to a friend/family member/pet/wall (!) can all be used to engage different areas of our brain and keep it interesting."

    - Elsie

  • Start with what you enjoy

    "If you’re lacking motivation, start with the subjects you enjoy the most. It will help you find your rhythm and set you off to a good start."

    - Tom

  • Mark your exams on a calendar

    "I find it really helpful to have a calendar with my exams marked on it, and a countdown with how many days to go. This helps me to plan out what I should be revising and helps me realise that I usually have more time than I think."

    - Caitlin

Positive messages to keep in mind

  • Believe in your ability

    "You’ll never feel you’ve done enough to satisfy yourself. You could go through every textbook once, twice, three times and still feel you don’t know enough. There comes a point where you need to trust yourself; you won’t know everything, but that’s okay! Examiners are not seeking the perfection you may expect of yourself - you will always be your worst critic. Know that you WILL pull it off on the day, even if it doesn’t go exactly to plan. Trust the process and remember you’re not alone!"

    - Martha

  • Grades don't define you

    "It is so important to remember that your grades don’t define your worth as a person, whether they are what you wanted or not. You are unique and special for so many reasons other than the results you collect at the end of August. Work hard, but only as hard as your mental health will let you comfortably!"

    - Martha

  • Exams will be over soon

    "Remember this season is temporary and soon you’ll be able to enjoy the post-exam celebrations. Good luck!"

    - Caitlin

  • Be proud of yourself

    "Lastly, feel proud of yourself no matter what happens. You will come out of this period hopefully feeling that you’ve don’t your best, and that’s all that counts. Everyone’s best is different and that is okay."

    - Martha

Where to get help

If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. We have information and advice that can really help.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Shout

    Text SHOUT to 85258.

    Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:

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