In hindsight, this post may have been better done a bit earlier, as by this point we’re almost into the full swing of exams. However, if you haven’t yet created yourself a revision timetable, it most definitely isn’t too late to do so!
Having sat more exams than I can count over the years, I’m no stranger to the dreaded annual exam-related stress out. However, I’ve always known that – for me at least – organisation is often the most effective antidote to stress. There’s nothing more calming than knowing that everything I need to do is down on paper. It means I can focus solely and today and right now, rather than what I need to do tomorrow or what I should* have done yesterday. I think for many people, the main source of exam stress isn’t the exam itself, it’s more the anxiety over whether we are revising enough. I’m sure at some point we’ve all been out doing something we usually enjoy, yet all we can think is “I should be revising right now”. Of course, 24/7 revision is certainly not the answer, yet the guilt and pressure still remains.
As a self-confessed perfectionist, I’ve spent years trying to master the art of making a perfect revision timetable, and I dare say I think I’ve got pretty good at it. My main aim was always to rid myself of having to worry about any day other than the one I am living right now. Achieving this mind-set is so beneficial, and seems to free up a ton of space in your head for the stuff which is actually important! I’ll warn you now, my method is a bit time-consuming, but its preciseness is exactly what makes it so effective. So without further ado, here is my step by step guide on creating a stress-relieving revision timetable:
1) For each subject, list every topic you need to revise on some scrap paper.
2) Split each of these broad topics up into very small chunks. You’re aiming to end up with lots of different snippets to revise which would each take roughly 30mins. So for example, I am studying Biology, and one of the topics is synapses. I would split this into say, problems with synapses, action potentials and effects of drugs on synapses. Suddenly, instead of being faced with one big and overwhelming topic to revise, I have 3 quick, manageable ones. For any topic which you have no option but to spend more than 30mins on, such as an exam paper, just tally 3 next to it to show that it takes up three slots of 30mins rather than just one.
3) Make your timetable showing every day until the end of your exams. I like to do this on the computer, but it can be handmade if you prefer.
4) Write your exams into your timetable.
5) Block off in one colour every day you have something planned and know you will be unable to revise. It doesn’t matter what it is; I block off entire weekends because I work on Saturdays and am normally hungover on Sundays. Being honest with yourself is the best way, and you don’t have to revise every day.
6) Count up the number of days you have free.
7) Divide the number of small topics (30min slots) you have by the number of days you have established as free. Round up to the nearest whole number. This is how many of your small topics it would be useful to revise each day. For example if you have 97 topics and 30 days, that’s 3.23, so round up to 4 per day.
8) Spread your small topics throughout your timetable. With the example I’ve just used (4 topics per day), you may choose to put two small 30 minute topics down for one day, as well as a one hour exam paper (which takes up the other two 30-minute slots).
9) Stick your timetable up and get started! You will by this point be so organised that there’s no reason to worry about when you’re going to fit anything in, because you have it all covered. Just get up every day and focus on what you have down for today, and nothing more.
10) Highlight or tick things off when they’re done to give you a sense of achievement. If something comes up which means you don’t finish everything one day, either just move on or fit it in somewhere else – it’s no big deal! Life happens.
Good luck with you exams everyone!
*Click here to read my post dedicated to the use of the word ‘should’.