Last Minute Exam Revision Tips

See also: Revision Skills

The last 24 hours before an exam can be very stressful. You may be worrying that you have not done enough revision, or that what you do now will be all that you can remember.

However, it can also be an extremely useful period for consolidation, and should therefore be used wisely.

Of course, it is possible that you have left all your revision to the last minute. While this is not ideal, some of these tips will be useful then, too.

Perhaps the most important tip, whether this is end or the beginning of your revision, is DON’T PANIC! It definitely won’t help, and is likely to seriously hinder your ability to concentrate. Stay calm, and all will be better.

How, then, should you revise on the final day before your exam? These tips will help you to make the most of the time.


1. Same old, same old…

The tips and techniques that have served you well up until this moment, especially the good study habits that you have built up, should not be discarded.

For example, you still need to take regular breaks, and you still need to vary what you are doing, to keep your mind interested. This is, perhaps, even more important today than other days: falling asleep over your books is not going to improve your peace of mind. You also need to eat healthily, and not rely on caffeine to keep you going.

2. Get up early and get going

It does not matter if you are not a morning person: getting going gives you more revision time.

On the last day before your exam, every second doesn’t really count. But by the end of the day, you are likely to feel as if it does, so you may as well start early and make the best of it.

You should aim to be working productively no later than the time that your exam will start the next day, so that you know you can do it.

3. Ask those around you for help

A problem shared is a problem halved, and those around you may be able to help, even if it is only keeping out of your way, or making you cups of tea from time to time.

Obviously, this will not work if everyone around you is also revising. But if you are at home with your parents, they may:

  • be glad to know that you are working and everything is under control;
  • be happy to stay out of your way; and
  • might even make you the odd drink or sandwich if you ask nicely.

If you have particular friends who are not revising for exams, particularly if they are ahead of you and went through it all the previous year, you might consider asking them if you can have dinner with them, or meet them in the evening. They will understand what you are going through, and are likely to be calming company.

4. Review summaries, rather than full notes

This final day should be regarded as a consolidation period.

It is, therefore, a good idea to read over summaries such as mind-maps, or one-page bullet point summaries of each topic. If you have not already prepared those, doing so can be a good way to review the topic, and check your understanding. Writing essay plans for past exam questions can also be a good way to both check your understanding and reassure yourself that you would have been able to answer questions in previous years.

If there is any topic which you feel particularly uncertain about, it may be helpful to review that in more detail.

5. Turn off the technology

No phone, no laptop, no technology. Simple.

You do not need any kind of distraction. Focus on written notes and use pen and paper to scribble reminders if necessary. Print off your lecture notes ahead of time if you normally keep them online, and turn off all the technology so you are not tempted.

6. Avoid stress—including in other people

You really do not need to feel more stressed than necessary.

It is therefore a good idea to avoid other people who are stressed, which may well mean your friends who are also sitting exams. By all means go to the library, especially if that has been your usual revision spot, but do avoid sitting round comparing how stressed you are, or how little you know. It will not help.

It is a particularly good idea to avoid anyone who you know is particularly stressed. Yes, of course you need to look after your friends but, right now, you are more important.

7. Consider taking a longer break: the whole afternoon and evening off

If you have done your revision thoroughly up to this point, taking a longer break can be a really good idea.

For example, you might go and do some exercise – go out for a long walk with a friend, or play a game of squash or swim. The idea is to distract you thoroughly from your work, and also make you physically tired, so that you will sleep better.

The reason for this is that it gives your brain a bit more processing time. It is possible to get ‘hooked’ on the last thing that you read, especially if you have been studying very hard. Taking a longer break means that you will be thinking about other things, and your brain can quietly organise your study in the background. This should help you to recall it more easily the next day, in your exam.

8. Get everything ready for the morning

The last thing—no, really, absolutely the last thing—you want to be doing on the morning of your exam is rushing round looking for something vital.

Get everything ready the day before. Put together all your pens, pencils, lucky mascots, and any other stationary that you need. Check whether you are allowed a pencil case, or need a plastic bag, and put everything in it. Check whether you will be allowed to have any electronic devices, watches and the like, and prepare yourself.

Do you need to wear particular clothes, such as school uniform? Get it out. Even if you don’t need particular clothes, get out what you are going to wear, and put it ready to put on in the morning. Everything that makes tomorrow less stressful will be worthwhile.


And finally…

Think positively.

You have done your revision, and it will be fine. It is, after all, only an exam, and not the end of the world. A positive attitude is likely to help you more than anything else tomorrow.


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