Exams and revision: Top tips from a Liverpool graduate

Liverpool Graduate

The exam and assessment season is nearly here, but don’t panic! There’s still plenty of time for you to get prepared, ready to ace your exams.

Recent graduate Lily-May Edwards looks back on her final year undergraduate exams in 2022 and has put together some of top tips to help you smash your exams.

Plan, plan, plan!

You’ve probably heard this tip a million times before, but that just reflects how crucial it actually is! You need to plan out your time well so it allows you to get the most out of your revision.

One of the most helpful things I did was create weekly plans every Sunday night for the week ahead. I included everything I had going on in the upcoming week, including non-revision activities – and fun stuff! It’s important to not take these activities out completely because you need to maintain a balance and not burn yourself out.

Creating these plans allowed me to see exactly what time I had available that week for revision, and it actually helped motivate me to revise in my set revision times of the week because I knew I had other stuff going on.

I also found it really useful to create a general revision timetable, so you can clearly see what topics you have to revise for, for each module. Avoid the temptation to jump straight into your revision without one, because although it does take time, it will save you hours of figuring out what to revise each day.

Avoid distractions

Distractions come in many forms and are different for each individual.

For me, my biggest distraction was my phone. Whenever I would get slightly stuck, I would be straight on my phone checking Instagram, TikTok and even my emails as a form of procrastination. This was happening way too often with my revision and was becoming a problem.

The way I combated this problem happened to be an app on my very same phone.

The Flora app was my best friend during exam season. Flora essentially boosts your productivity by allowing you to set a time where you are unable to go on your phone. During this period, you are growing a tree on your app and if you avoid using your phone during this time, you have a tree now in your garden! If you are unsuccessful and go on your phone during the time, the tree dies.

I’m not sure about the logic or how this fixed my problem, but if you are struggling with always being distracted by your phone, then definitely give flora a go!

Whatever your biggest distraction may be try to think of ways to tackle it. For example, if your distraction is your friends, make sure you revise away from them or if that is not possible, have headphones on. If you get distracted at home then try if you can to go somewhere else to revise, whether that be the library, a coffee shop, your uni building.

Switch up your studying

Something that I found really useful during exam season was to be switching up my studying. I tried changing where I was studying, who I was studying with, and also my revision methods.

This really helped me to break up my days and keep motivated as it is usually easier for us to learn content in small and manageable chunks. For me, this would mean learning one chunk in the Sydney Jones using flash cards before moving on to my next chunk in the Law building using mind maps.

Don’t isolate yourself

Something to always keep in mind during exam season is to not isolate yourself. Isolating yourself to just revise all of the time will cause you to burn out and will not be good for you mentally.  Instead, allow time for the things you enjoy, whether that be a sport society, going out with friends, or even just having some downtime yourself.

It’s important to remember that revision doesn’t mean you have to totally stop doing the things you enjoy. Making some time to relax during your day will help you feel less anxious and can help to make your revision sessions more productive.

Get to know your exam format, REALLY well

Spending some time to nail your exam format may seem a little wasteful, but honestly it is so worth it! Ensuring you understand the exam format and scope helps you know what to revise.

If you have the chance, I would recommend chatting to your lecturers and seminar tutors about the format of the exam and from this you can hopefully learn more about what is expected structurally from you in the exam.

Look after yourself

By this I mean, eating well, sleeping well, getting in some exercise and also rewarding yourself. All of these are vital in ensuring you are getting the most out of your revision.

Eating well:  It can be tempting to eat conveniently and quickly to maximise your revision time, but this won’t result in effective revision. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking lots of water will leave you feeing focused, refreshed and more energetic.

Sleeping well: A bad habit a lot of students fall into in exam season is not getting enough sleep. Having a good night’s sleep is so important as it means your brain functions properly.

Exercise: Take time to have a break from revision and do some exercise. One of my favourite things I used to do was to go for a walk with my housemates around Sefton Park. It was a win-win for me as I was getting out and about and getting some exercise in as well as getting to spend some time chatting away with my friends!

Reward yourself: Give yourself some motivation with something to look forward to! Rewards can be as little or as big as you want, I used to always have my favourite chocolate bar as my reward at the end of the day almost like a mini celebration that the day’s revision is over.

Seek help if you need it

Exam season is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Don’t worry if you are struggling, reach out for help! A simple chat with your friend, a phone call to your family can help, but always remember the uni has so many services available to you.

The KnowHow team have put together a series of resources that are full of useful advice including online tutorials on Canvas where you will find a variety of materials that will help you get ready for your exams.

Student Services offers a range of support that includes wellbeing advisors, counsellors, and the mental health. If you are feeling anxious, stressed or just need to talk then take a look at how they can help.