University Revision: Top Five Exam Tips 2016

january is time for university revision

We’ve now reached the middle of January, which means one thing for University students. That’s right, the dreaded January exams are upon us, and there is no escaping from revision. If you are struggling with revision tips, or in the midst of a full blown exam pandemic, then fear not. In this blog we’ll provide you with some fantastic tips on how to accelerate your learning, and provide you with a guide to university revision.


Make A University Revision Timetable

Before you start revising, it’s important to form a solid university revision timetable. The reason for this is that if you plan your revision before you start, you won’t need to spend time doing it when you should be revising. A revision timetable is a date/time style chart, outlining the subjects or topics that you intend to revise on each day, at each time. The more specific the better. This will allow you to improve your weakest areas, and still take time to go back over and strengthen the areas that you are best in. Without a strict timetable in place, you risk taking a scattergun approach to learning, which is unlikely to benefit you come exam time.

Using Your Notes

By the time January arrives, you should have accumulated a huge amount of notes from your first semester, and even from any prior university revision that you have done. Now that it’s exam time, these notes will prove extremely useful. Here are a few ways to make sure you use your notes to your advantage:

  • Colour code your notes. This is a proven and effective manner of ensuring that you remember them. Your mind will start to associate the different colours with individual topics or themes within the subject, making it easier to utilise what you’ve learned in the exam.
  • Arrange your notes by subject. This is a basic tip but one that a surprising amount of people forget. You should keep your notes from each subject in separate individual folders, meaning they don’t get mixed together, making it easier to find everything when the time comes for revision. Organisation is key
  • Break down your notes. A great way of dealing with what can often be a confusing mass of notes, is to break these notes down into more concise points. For example, if you have a whole paragraph scribbled down on a certain topic, break this paragraph down into smaller, more concise bullet points. This will help your brain to digest the information better.

students taking university revision in january


Another great way to revise, is through diagrams. Diagrams are best used in conjunction with other university revision methods, but still work as a great individual method. Diagrammatic revision methods include:

  • Spider Diagrams. These are a great way of remember how key bits of information link together.
  • Mind Maps. These will help you to remember the specific themes associated with a particular subject area/topic.

The better you can visualise written information, the better your brain will take it in. Diagrams can also make revision less tedious, and more enjoyable.


Possibly the most dreaded and least fun of all university revision exercises, is simply forcing yourself to remember key information. While it might be the most hated, unfortunately this is by and far and away the most effective method out there, so pay close attention.

  • First, take a page of your notes. In this example, we’ll take a page of single line quotations from different authors.
  • Looking at those notes, write them all down again on a separate piece of paper.
  • Read over the piece of paper several times, go away for 5 minutes and then come back and try to write down the quotes without looking.
  • Repeat this until you can write down the whole page from memory.
  • This might seem brutal and tedious, but is extremely effective, and is proven to help students take in and learn information.

Past papers

Past papers are a proven and effective way to help you familiarise yourself with the type of questions you’ll face, and the time constraints that you will be under. Practice papers are simply past papers from other exams, and require you to treat the actual practice assessment like you would your real exam. That is to say, you should take the exam under timed conditions. Here are some top tips for getting the most out of your university revision practice papers:

    • Understand where you went wrong. Understanding why you made the mistakes you made is hugely important. It is very unlikely that you will gain a perfect score on any practice paper, and that means that there is always improvement to be made. Once you’ve been through the whole paper, check any incorrect answers carefully to ensure that you know where you went wrong. This will help to ensure that you get this type of question right the next time round.
    • Time your exam. This might be uncomfortable but it is great practice for the real thing. The fact is that your brain works differently under timed pressure. Past papers are a way of training your brain to work in a certain way under certain conditions. If you can maximise your efficiency in practice papers, you will improve your exam performance tenfold.

For more fantastic revision and planning tips, check out the University of Kent website!

university revision is crucial for passing exams