Exam Preparation

How To Revise: Using notes/guides and knowledge organisers effectively

You can use your revision materials in many ways to help you revise. Some of the easiest and most useful are outlined below. What is vital is that you learn the facts/details and ‘test, test, test’ yourself.

Research has found that frequent testing (in whatever way you feel is best for you) helps you remember. Repetition of tasks and revisiting your notes again and again between now and your final exams will really help you be confident and achieve your best. Try the techniques below and see what works best for you.


Spend 5 mins learning a section of the KO/notes/page, then cover it up and write it out without looking. In a different coloured pen check what you have written and add in what you have missed. The more you do this, the less you forget.


A 20 minute revision activity!  Select a small chunk of what you wish to revise.  Spend 3 minutes reading and re-reading the information. Turn the page over and spend 2 minutes saying the information – this could be in your head or out loud. This is called ELABORATION and this is the key part which will help you remember so don’t miss it out.

Now, spend 8 minutes writing out your own questions based on the information you have just studied, with answers on the other side (post its or scrap paper is useful here)

Spend 2 minutes quizzing yourself – or get friends and family to help quiz you.

Then spend 5 minutes writing out the answers to your questions, and then check your answers.


Use the resource to make flashcards. Put key terms/questions on one side and definitions/answers on the other. Use different colours for different parts of the topic – that can help you remember as well.

Mind Mapping

Use your resource to make your own mind map. Separate out different elements of the topic into different colours. Use lots of diagrams/pictures/emoticons/arrows etc to make your mind map your own. Visuals can also help you remember key ideas. Other graphic organisers can also be useful to collate your ideas. You can find lots of different types on the Internet.

Lotus Map

A lotus map is another form of graphic organiser that can be really helpful. It can organise facts/details and show how ideas are grouped. You can make your own lotus map from your notes/reading.

Just a Minute

Pick a topic that you need to revise. Prepare a one minute speech to give on this topic. You can say this speech to a family member or friend, or even just to yourself. Give the speech on this topic, using no notes and without hesitation. Once you can do this you will know you have learnt the key facts and details.

Past Questions & Timed Responses

Using past exam questions and completing them within time limits not only helps you to craft your responses but improves your time management. You can then use a mark scheme yourself or get your teacher to give you feedback.

Worked Examples

Use other student responses and/or worked examples to help you improve your own responses. You can annotate the worked response to see how your response and the exemplar are different, what the exemplar does well or even what they missed out. In this way you can identify your own strengths and development points.

  • Make a start! At first revising can seem overwhelming and that can make us give up before we even begin. Little and often from now until your real exams will make a big difference. So, start today.
  • Don’t worry about knowing everything at once. If you were already an expert you would be the teacher, not the learner. It’s important to focus on your development areas bit by bit.
  • Don’t start revising what you already know, what you enjoy, what you are good at. You need to tackle the challenges first as this will take more time
  • Use family and friends to support you and help you. Staff are also available for any guidance you may need.
  • Take breaks and plan your work around important events so you don’t feel you are missing out. Plan in rewards for your hard work.
  •  Don’t expect teachers to ‘give you all the answers’. Exams now expect you to be able to deal with the unexpected and tackle questions in a different context so for some subjects there is no ‘right’ answer. If you have learnt the key knowledge then teachers will spend time on developing your exam skills and techniques.
Revision needs to be active!
  • We remember 90% of what we need to by teaching others
  • We remember 75% of what we need to by doing/practice
  • We remember 50% of what we need to by interacting with others
  • We only remember 10% of what we need to by reading.