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We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

Your Guide to Acing your Exams

19 March 2024

Your Guide to Acing your Exams


Revision is a crucial phase in exam preparation, yet it often comes with its own set of challenges.  

Whether you are preparing for your GCSES, A-Levels, IBs or your end-of year assessments, our top tips and tricks will help you get started with your revision game-plan and have you feeling more confident as we approach the exam season.  

In this blog we’ve answered your frequently asked revision questions and provided our favourite study techniques, to ensure you feel one step closer towards acing your exams! 

Your Revision Questions Answered 

How can I manage my time in the lead up to my exams?  

Being able to schedule your revision and plan effectively is the best way to avoid procrastination and ensure you make the most of the time leading up to your exams.  

If you struggle with planning ahead, and are looking to improve your time management skills, simply follow our top 3 tips below:  

  1. Plan Backwards – The key to effective revision is being organised and starting early! We recommend working backwards from the date of each of your exams and calculating how much time you have to prepare for each subject. An easy place to start is to simply write down each exam and the date you are scheduled to take it in a list, and keep this next to you as you start to shape your revision timetable.This will help you when it comes to prioritising out your time.   
  2. Break content downFeeling overwhelmed by revision can often be because we are looking at everything all at once, rather than breaking our revision down into manageable, easy-to-understand sections. Instead of simply writing ‘Biology Revision’ on your timetable, try and focus more specifically on what exactly this entails.  

For example, you could ask yourself the following prompts for each of the subjects you are taking: 

  • What specific papers do you need to revise for?Are they all on the same date?  
  • Within a paper, can any topics be grouped together thematically?Would it make sense to revise those topics on the same day/week? 
  • Which papers in each subject do you feel most confident in? Which, by contrast, do you think you might need to spend more time on? 
  • Have you got notes/flashcards pre-prepared for some of your modules? What notes do you need to create still? 
  • Which content will take you the longest to revise? Have you covered any content more recently?   

Asking yourself these questions can help you when it comes to timetabling each of your subjects, and allow you to have a better understanding of exactly what needs to be done and for when.  

A case study of this in practice can be seen below:  

Caitlin is revising for her History GCSE. She has three papers, and therefore three exams, in this subject: Paper 1, 2 and 3. She spends time looking at the topics for each exam, asking herself the questions above. She then starts to timetable her revision sessions accordingly: 

  • Instead of simply revising for ‘History’, Caitlin focussed her revision topic-by-topic, for example separating Elizabethan revision from ‘Health and the People’. 
  •  She found it useful to separate these broader topics into subcategories that she could put into her timetable easily e.g. separating ‘Health and the People’ into ‘key dates’, ‘factors that affected progress’ and ‘the role of the government’.  
  • She knew that she found Elizabethan history more challenging when learning in class, so has made sure to give herself more time to do further reading and create flashcards in her timetable. 

By breaking down the content of your exams into topics, and even sub-topics, you can make your revision more manageable and easier to schedule. It will also allow you to see which topics you are comfortable with, and which topics need more of your attention.  

  1. Be Realistic - The reason we spend time creating a revision timetable is to make life easier for ourselves, not harder. It’s important therefore that we are being realistic with our scheduling to ensure we can stay motivated over the weeks ahead.  

Try not to give yourself too much to do at one time. In fact, research has shown that you should ideally have no more than 5 items on your to-do list at any one moment, to ensure that you remain motivated and don’t feel disappointment around any incomplete tasks (Harvard Business Review, 2022).  

A simple way to keep to keep on top of our to-do list is to separate out tasks with more pressing deadlines from those with a more longer term priority. Creating ‘to-do’ and ‘today’ lists mean we are able to prioritise our tasks easier and see how we are able to make the most efficient use of our time throughout the working day.   

Example of this in practice: 

Today list: 

  • Finish flashcards for ‘Inspector Calls’ for mock exam on Tuesday 
  • Make notes for ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Act I & II for class revision session on Thursday 

To-do list: 

  • Makes notes for remaining ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Acts 
  • Past paper for English Language 
  • Further Reading for Romeo & Juliet 

A key thing to remember is that revision is a marathon, not a sprint, and by tackling 5 tasks each day, you can make good progression in the right direction! 

For more advice on how to manage your time effectively, check out our blog:6 Essential Time Management Skills Every Student Needs, where you’ll find all the tips and tricks you’ll need. 

How can I avoid procrastination?  

Procrastination, or the act of delaying something important, is a natural response many of us have to high workloads or impending deadlines. When it comes to exams, procrastination can be dangerous, as delayed revision can lead to encroaching deadlines and reduced wellbeing during exam season. It’s important therefore to try and avoid procrastination as much as possible, to make the best use of your time.  

Follow our simple tips below to avoid procrastination:  

  1. Sticking to your timetable – Make sure that once you have made your timetable, you stick to it as best as you can. This is why ensuring your timetable is not too overwhelming is important. Sticking to your timetable will help you stay motivated as well as on task.  
  2. Ensuring you have the right revision mindset – Sometimes we can sit with our procrastination because we are not in the right mindset to start our revision properly. Our mindset can be the most important tool to mastering our revision, so it is important that we are able to recognise what helps us with our revision, and what perhaps does not. For example, some people find close deadlines highly motivating, whilst others find this time-pressure highly stressful. Spend time figuring out how you best study and remain motivated, and ensure you try to emulate that environment throughout your revision going forwards.  

For more tips on how to strengthen your revision mindset, read our blog on how to motivate yourself to study. 

  1. Imagine your future self! – Often, we can find ourselves procrastinating because we cannot see the benefit of our work right now. Behavioural psychologists have found that thinking about our future selves makes it easier for our brain to see the value in our actions now, making ourselves more motivated to work.  

If you are struggling with procrastination, try to picture your future after this exam period. Whether it’s getting into your dream university, or getting the grades to start your dream career, this mindset can help keep you motivated and on task with your revision.  

If you are looking for some inspiration, take our quick careers quiz here to give you an idea of a potential future career!  

Looking after yourself! 

It is crucial that you prioritise your wellbeing and look after yourself during exam season.  

Read on to hear tips from our team on how to take care of yourself during revision:  

  1. Having a clean study space - Having a clean study space helps ensure that you stay in a positive mindset for your revision. A tidy desk can help with a ‘tidy mind’ and can ensure you stay on task with your revision and are less distracted by your surroundings.  
  2. Take regular breaks – Being able to take breaks away from revision will help strengthen our mindset and approach to our exams. Taking breaks allows us to reflect on our work with fresh eyes and can keep our brain focussed when we are back at our desks. You want to feel incentivised to get your work done, so try and reward yourself with short breaks throughout the day where you can.  
  3. Exercise – Physical activity, whether a brisk walk or a quick workout, is a wonderful way to boost your energy levels and improve your concentration. It’s no secret that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and reduce stress, so incorporating brief moments of movement into your day will help you keep calm and energised during exam season.  
  4. Prioritise Sleep – The importance of sleep in the lead up to exams cannot be overstated. Quality sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation, ensuring that the information you've studied during the day is effectively stored and retained. Without sufficient rest, the brain struggles to process new information, leading to decreased focus, and reduced productivity. Try wherever possible to prioritise getting at least 8 hours sleep a night, to give your body and brain time to rest and re-energise for the next day.  
  5. Reward yourself - You shouldn’t be afraid to reward yourself for doing a job well done. Doing things you enjoy, such as meeting friends, having a nap or going for a run, can all be motivating ways to refresh and get ready for your next task. With the use of rewards, you can train your brain to develop those healthy study habits. However, you shouldn’t use rewarding yourself for your hard work as an excuse to procrastinate or put off your next task!  
  6. Mindfulness – Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises can be valuable tools to remaining calm and focussed during exam season. If you’re new to practicing mindfulness, there are some fantastic apps, videos and podcasts you can research which can help you get started ahead of your exams starting. 
  7. Ask for help – If you are struggling with revision or time management, do not hesitate to reach out for help. There will be plenty of people who will be willing to support you through this exam period. Whether it’s a parent/guardian, your friends or one of your teachers, make sure that you ask for help when you need it.  

Good luck with your exams from everyone at InvestIN!   

Looking for a way to spend your summer once your exams are over? Why not check out our Summer Experiences, taking place throughout July & August in 15 exciting careers!  


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