How to revise effectively in just one day
So you’ve left all your exam revisions to the last minute? Don’t worry – it’s a scenario that can creep up on the best of us, and we’re here to help!
Whether it’s down to extreme procrastination, a killer timetable, or genuinely unforeseen circumstances, you probably want to learn how to revise effectively and quickly because you’ve realized your exam is tomorrow and you’re completely unprepared.
While we wouldn’t condone leaving all your revision until the final day, we’re here to reassure you that all is not lost! It’s possible to revise for an exam in a day.
10 last-minute exam revision tips
These are our top tips for studying the day before an exam:
1. Wake up early
When you’ve only got one day to deal with the job in hand, you need to make the most of it. You don’t want to get up at stupid-o-clock and burn out too early. But, you should set yourself an alarm for a sensible time and aim to start work at around 9 am. After all, you can nap all you want after the exam!
2. Choose the right place to work
As much as we wish it weren’t true, you really won’t get much done from your bed. We’d love to say otherwise, but it’s just a fact. You’ll be a lot more productive in an environment that you associate with working. So, set yourself up at your desk or haul yourself down to the library.
3. Go to the library prepared
Think of every possibility. You might have only used those erasable highlighters once, but if you leave them, you’ll probably need them. When the going gets tough later on, you don’t want to be wasting time searching for books or notes, or giving yourself an excuse to stop working because you don’t have everything you need.
4. Create a plan before you start
Planning out your revision will make such a difference. You may only have one day, but you’ll get much more done if you break it up and work out exactly what you need to know. This approach will be much more effective than just cramming in any old info.
Spend half an hour working out what topics you need to cover and allotting chunks of time for each bit. It might seem like a waste of valuable revision time, but trust us – it’ll save you much more time in the long run.
5. Use lecture slides and past papers
Lecture slides and past papers are both great ways to work out what’s likely to come up in the exam, so make use of them. Once you’ve worked out what’s probably going to come up, head to the textbooks to jot down key notes on each area. Look out for chapter summaries and key information boxes for a more succinct read. You can also use past papers to test your knowledge. You don’t necessarily need to answer them all in full, but you can write quick plans of how you’d approach them.
6. Study without technology and social media
As tough as it may seem, opting for a day without your phone, laptop or tablet will help you to study for your exam. Writing things down (as opposed to typing) can help you focus and process the info. And if you need lecture notes, print them off. This will also keep you away from the procrastination devil that is social media.
7. Re-read your lecture notes and highlight
This is where your hard work earlier in the year will hopefully pay off. You can now consolidate whatever was on your lecture slides or in the textbooks. As an added bonus, cues you’ve jotted down in lectures should hopefully trigger more info from the depths of your brain. You don’t have a huge amount of time on your hands (after all, this is a guide on how to revise quickly). So if something isn’t jogging your memory, it may be worth coming back to it if you have spare time later on.
8. Condense your notes
Streamline each topic down to one page of notes using your lecture slides, previous notes, and textbooks. How you revise depends on your degree. But for essay-based subjects, learn the key concepts, examples, and evaluations, along with at least one conflicting argument. Don’t waste time copying out paragraphs – this is laborious, time-consuming, and totally unnecessary. Simply reading through some selective notes should trigger your memory when you read through them on the morning of your exam.
10. Sleep well
No matter how stressed you feel, make sure to get some good quality shut-eye for at least six hours (ideally eight or more, though).
If you’re having trouble sleeping, remind yourself that, at this point, sleep is more important than endlessly cramming. Exhaustion won’t help you perform and your brain needs time to process all the things you’ve been revising the day before.