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Making a revision timetable that actually works

Get more from your study time with a top-notch revision plan

A solid study planner is key to making sure you cover everything you need to in time for the exam. It also has the added benefit of breaking everything down into more manageable chunks – revision suddenly feels much less daunting!

Once you start getting everything out on paper or screen, you'll have a proper idea of the task ahead. The ideal revision timetable will be prepared far enough in advance that you can keep a good balance between study and life without burning yourself out. 

Ready? Let's get started on that winning revision timetable...

Starting your revision timetable

A basic revision timetable is essentially a calendar. But instead of holidays and birthdays, it contains topics and subjects you need to revise on specific days. Yours doesn't have to stray far from this very simple model:
  • Work out how many revision days you have left until your exams
  • Decide how much time you will spend revising on each day
And then...
  • ​​​Make a list of all the exams you need to revise for
  • Share the available revision time around each subject and exam
Once you've got the basic timetable in place, you can start breaking those subject timings down into topics. You might then tweak it to suit your own study style (for instance, focusing more on one specific subject and less on another). More on that below.

If you can access your timetable on the go (using something such as Google Docs or an app – see some app ideas below) you'll have more flexibility over where you can study.

I find rigid timetables stress me out too much and I end up neglecting them. What I usually do is just make a timetable for the month I'm in and assign a sub-topic to that day. Wingsly, Tsr Forum Member


Prioritising your revision

Spend some time working out which subjects and topics need more of your revision time. You can then focus on these in your study planner.

A few things to think about:
  • Mock results. These might have flagged areas you need to work on
  • Uni offers. You might need to work harder to achieve certain parts of your offer
  • Teacher feedback. Ask your teacher if they think there are certain areas where you need to focus
  • Course specification. You can download the specification for each of your subjects. It will list everything that you're expected to know, so you can then check your revision plan is covering all it needs to
Don't forget to make time for your stronger subjects too!

Regular refreshers

If you possibly can, try to make time to revise topics more than once – especially the ones you find tricky. Ideally you will have a plan that covers all the topics and then has refresher sessions for each. In this way, your understanding of each topic will stay fresh.

Past papers

Looking back at exams from previous years will help you get in the zone. You can get used to how questions are worded, and set yourself the challenge of taking them against the clock. Plug time into your revision timetable to go through past papers regularly.

Here are links to the exam board pages where you can find past papers: 

This article on The Student Room has tips on using past papers to ace your exams. 

Approach subjects differently

Have a varied approach, as certain study methods will suit some subjects better than others. This might depend on how intense the material is, how it will be assessed or simply how you best retain everything.

For example, the following methods might work for you:
  • flashcards for key dates in history
  • jingles or rhymes for phrases you'll have to speak in a French oral exam
  • pictures to identify parts of the human body in biology.
The length of your study periods can also be flexible according to what works for you. For example, you might find that two 45-minute sessions of maths – with a break in between – are most productive. But you can focus on your chemistry revision for longer periods of time.

One way to structure a revision timetable is to allocate revision sessions and breaks within certain times, such as 45 minutes of revision followed by a 15 minute break, which is repeated. Leviathan1741, Tsr Forum Member

Revision timetable apps

These three popular apps can help you structure and plan your revision schedule. They offer study timetable templates to start from, along with other features to help you stay focused.

My Study Life: an app to use throughout the year, not just during your revision period. Track homework and assignments, and organise your daily and weekly schedule. Everything is stored in the Cloud for easy access on multiple devices. Available on: Play Store, iTunes

SQA My Study Plan: created by the Scottish Qualification Authority for Scottish students, the app creates a personalised study plan based on when your exams are you can import your exam timetable directly from SQA MyExams. Available on: Play Store, iTunes

Timetable: if you're an Android-head, Timetable is one way to manage school life across your devices. The app even mutes your phone during lessons, in case you forget... Available on: Play Store

Need more revision help? Try the revision tips and study help page on our sister site, The Student Room. 

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