Revision Tips From Teens: Staying With The Program

So next up are Common Entrance, GSCEs, A levels and year-end exams for about everybody else. Revision programs are being planned out, perfected and colour coded. Then it just needs ploughing through and deliver you all studied up and ready at the exam date.

But it is not easy to ‘stay with the program’. You know you procrastinate. You can’t help it. But procrastination is self-defeating and, frankly, depressing. So how can you stay on top of your revision and exam prep without getting in a state?

A lot of dealing with stress when revising for those all-important exams, is not only to make your brain absorb and hold all that information, but equally to prepare your body for a marathon-like experience, for a physical endurance test. So, if you imagine revision as preparing for a marathon, you would want to give yourself the best chance of ‘finishing’ it in one piece by giving your body plenty of ‘fuel’, i.e. great food, fresh air, some exercise as well as sufficient sleep.

Looking after your physical self would be the first logical step in your revision program and is key to the ability to concentrate, to stay resilient and to resist panic. Another important part of any self-respecting revision program is to organise – if available - a separate study area and to be able to leave this area when on scheduled breaks or to sleep at night. It will help set boundaries between being ‘on and ‘off’.

This is if course often the opposite of what you do. You eat or drink sugary things to stay awake to study deep into the night. You don’t sleep enough, stray from your own program as it was too ambitious to start with and you may be too tired due to lack of sleep and an abundance of ‘unhelpful’ snacks. In short, your schedule is getting out of whack. So how to avoid the usual pitfalls?

At TalksforTeens, we decided to ask teens themselves about what helps them cope with stress and what are the best revision hacks.

The survey revealed – surprisingly maybe - that a good night’s sleep also tops the list of teens and they seem to agree with the science here. Sleep as a priority seemed more important for male respondents as many girls seem to study until the early hours of the morning or pull all-nighters (often necessary due to having started revision too late). Studying with friends is another favourite hack, either together at a library or everyone at their own home via facetime. This helps feeling connected and to avoid serious procrastinating. There was a lot of mention of going for a run or do exercise to break the monotony of learning (and sitting), as long as the activity was not too time consuming. Furthermore, it seems that studying various subjects on one day for a set amount of time, instead of finishing one subject entirely, is the most favourite solution and allows for a daily limit for less interesting and/or more difficult subjects (most often it is both). Lastly, switching off phones was easier for the boys than the girls surveyed, although everybody was convinced that the phone must be out of reach and mind to be able to stick to a revision schedule.

There was not so much clarity or consensus on the right food choices that might help with concentration and memory and it appears that the more stressed students are, the worse the food choices become and the more frequent the need for (sugary) treats, coffee or energy drinks.

The conclusion? Know yourself and make a realistic revision schedule. And stick to it. As simple as that. Getting derailed will create lateness, more stress, less sleep, a worsening diet and tiredness and likely not the exam results you are hoping for.

So, by accepting that no one can study for more than 8 productive hours a day and that 8 hours of sleep are the top revision tip, that leaves, 8 glorious hours for other things such as breaks, exercise, great food AND spending some time with friends. Now it just takes doing it :)

Links & sources: