Revision guide
Plan your revision
How to revise
Top techniques
Prepare for the day
In the exam
Tips for parents
How to revise
You don't need to revise alone – working in groups can be a great advantage, and more fun
You don't need to revise alone – working in groups can be a great advantage and more fun
Photograph: Don McPhee

You don't have to revise on your own. And it doesn't have to be painful or boring. Believe it or not, it can even be enjoyable. By using these six key revision skills, you will gain confidence in your revision.

1 Make notes

Notes help you concentrate and understand a topic. They also save you from having to read your whole course file, because you can memorise your own notes more easily.

  • Make notesRead through your essays, notes and textbook chapters and list key points and words under each separate heading as you do so.
  • Write in different colours or use highlighters to make important points or to make headings stand out.
  • List any of your own ideas under each of these headings in another colour.
  • Make sure your notes are concise (short and clear) and relevant (keeping to the subject). Try to show what is important information and what is not.
  • Make sure your notes are legible.
  • Once you have completed your notes, you may find it useful to rewrite them and keep a final copy stored on index cards or in a small notebook for easy reference, especially for when you have a spare moment.

2 Use mnemonics to help you remember

A mnemonic is a way of helping you remember information using abbreviations, words or phrases. The funnier these are, the better. To remember the colours of the visible spectrum in order, you might use the mnemonic: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, using the initial letters of each word to remember (in the right order) the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

3 Use diagrams

Use diagramsDiagrams can also help you remember and understand things.

Each leg of a spidergram, for example, has a heading that is linked to the main body or topic. You can display these diagrams where you are studying.

4 Revise with your friends

Forming self-help pairs or groups to assist your revision and to test each other can be a great advantage. Working with others can help you to fill in gaps in your understanding or knowledge and is bound to be more fun than working alone. But be careful not to make your sessions all fun and no work!

5 Study past papers

If possible, try to get hold of a selection of recent past papers from your school exams officer or your head of year. Study the past papers and familiarise yourself with the layout of the paper, the types of questions asked and how marks are allocated. When practising, use the techniques in the Top techniques section of this revision guide.