Balancing multiple responsibilities and priorities can be challenging for anyone, including staying on top of academic performance. Creating a personalised revision timetable can be a crucial tool for success for those looking to revise for exams while juggling other commitments.
A personal revision timetable or planner is essential. By tailoring your study schedule to your individual needs and learning style, you can optimise your time and focus on the areas where you need the most improvement. Let’s get revising.
Starting your revision timetable
A revision timetable usually resembles a calendar. Of course, how you structure your calendar is up to you, but we recommend keeping it small. Month-long timetables should be the absolute maximum, any more than that and you will start to feel overwhelmed, especially if you don’t know how to revise.
There are some fundamental basics to consider when creating your timetable, such as:
- Decide on timings.
- List all of the exams you need to revise.
- List the different methods used to revise each topic (not every topic or subject will require the same techniques.
- Make sure all subjects have an equal amount of revision for them.
- Make sure your exams are listed.
Creating your revision timetable:
- Choose the system you'll be using (Word, Google suite etc).
- Break down the subjects you will be revising.
- Organise them so the most recent exam is first.
- Decide what timescale you want your timetable to cover (weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc).
- Place these subject revisions into different days with regimented breaks every 30-45 minutes.
- Give yourself a lunch break.
- Make sure to include the dates of your exams.
Make sure your timetable is easily accessible. It’s usually best to store your revision timetable on a Google Calendar, Google Docs or Google Sheets if you want to create an academic planner, calendar or revision timetable template.
Make your timetable achievable
Know your limits. It can be very tempting to jam your revision timetable with as many different things as possible, but you need to make sure that what you are doing is actually doable and not just being done to fill space.
Give yourself some time off. Nine hours of solid back-to-back revision with no breaks will drive you up the wall, so make sure you factor in human elements like lunch breaks, general breaks and fresh air.
This also extends to the actual methods you use. If you are someone who learns better from listening to someone, then it’s not a good idea to buy hundreds of textbooks and hope you will learn what you need along the way. Be realistic about how you learn things and plan accordingly.
Work out the timing
The timings you will have for revision will depend on your circumstances. Revising for nine hours a day during term time is not very realistic. When setting your timings, make sure you've considered what is possible.
Weekends and half-terms allow for longer revision sessions, but still need spacing out. Work out how much time you can realistically spend on revision before you begin making mammoth timetables.
A revision timetable usually resembles a calendar. Of course, how you structure your calendar is up to you, but we recommend keeping it small.
Prioritise certain subjects or topics
Work out how far away your exams are. The closest exam should be prioritised over the farthest. For example, if you have an exam on Mathematics and one on English, figure out which one is closest and begin planning accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you don’t revise the final one at all. It just has less priority.
It is also important to consider just how much learning you need for each subject. Some subjects will be more in-depth than others, meaning they will require more revision than others.
While you will still need to revise them, subjects you are already good at will require less revision. You will need to go back and revise them, but they will likely require less attention than subjects that you are not as proficient in.
Make sure you include breaks (preferably 30 minutes or so)
Breaks are so important when revising. Taking some time away from the manic nature of revision is an excellent way to keep yourself from burning out, but it can also help you review what you've already learned.
Make sure you eat plenty. An hour-long lunch break is an excellent way to kill two birds with one stone. If you are revising during the week and outside of half-term, make sure you split your revision up with 15-minute breaks that allow you to focus on something else.
The timings you will have for revision will depend on your circumstances.
Even something as innocuous as scrolling through TikTok or Twitter can be an excellent way to relieve some stress. Watching the latest episode of the show you’re watching on Netflix can be helpful. Still, since most episodes are usually 30 minutes or so and can be freakishly addictive, we’d recommend holding off on that until you're done for the day - it’s a great reward to have.
Make sure you include past papers as part of the timetable
Past papers are an essential revision technique. You can prepare yourself for the challenge of an upcoming exam by looking at those that came before you.
If you are creating a weekly timetable, it can be a good idea to have past papers down for the end of the week. Take your week’s revision and use it as though it were a real exam, done under test conditions.
You can also use these as means of research for your revision. Look at the questions being asked and see if you can revise them in any way. Past papers may come with previous answers, so this is a good way to learn what kind of answers the exam board looks for.
Breaks are so important when revising.
Lots of exam boards have past papers on their sites. Exam boards such as AQA, CCEA and Pearson offer these for students for precisely this purpose. Flashcards, mind maps and other learning methods can go hand-in-hand with this method.
There’s an app for that
Apps are an excellent way to regiment your revision. You can use them as a way to keep your focus on your work, by limiting your ability to open certain distractions within a certain time frame, or you can use them as a means of making revision more enjoyable.
Certain revision apps can be excellent for students. Revision apps such as Penultimate, Remember the Milk, iMindMap, Flora and Focus can all be hugely beneficial and will stop you from getting distracted ahead of your breaks.