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Making a revision timetable that actually works

Just as an architect wouldn’t begin a project without a blueprint, you can’t just open a book randomly one day, begin reading and build a strong basis for your exams.

A solid revision schedule not only guarantees you cover everything you need to in time for the exam, but it also breaks everything down into more manageable chunks – much less scary!

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 enough in advance that you have a bit of balance and don’t burn yourself out.

So what are you waiting for? Let's get started on that winning revision timetable...

Check out our full revision advice area including how to stay productive (and not get distracted), how to survive exam day and more.

How to make a revision timetable

1. Compiling your study 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 really have to stray far from this very simple model:

      1. Divide however long you have until your exams by how many subjects you study. 
      2. Divide all the topics and areas you need to cover accordingly

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


2. How do I prioritise what I need to revise?

Ask yourself what subjects or particular topics within those subjects do you need to spend more time on?

Perhaps some disappointing mock results have flagged areas you need to pay attention to? Or there are certain subjects where you need to achieve a certain grade, to progress into what you plan to do next? Make sure you prioritise these in your revision schedule.

Remember not to get cocky and neglect those subjects that you’re already strong at.

Revision FAQ including A* students reveal their revision secrets

3. Regular refreshers

Don’t just cover an area once and move on. If you do this, the material you study first will be a distant memory by the time you come to exams.

So fit in time to revisit material among your study timetable.

Watch now: How to calm exam nerves


4. Past papers

Past papers are always a great idea. Lots of exam boards have copies of past papers and you can test yourself to check that it's sticking. It also gives you practice with the format of the questions you might be asked.

Want to shake your revision up? Here are 10 game-changing study tips.

5. 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

Tackling all your subjects the exact same way isn't always best. Here are five more revision no-nos to drop right now.

6. Revision timetable apps

These three popular apps can help you structure and plan your revision schedule. They offer study timetable templates to start from, plus a whole host of other nifty features:

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

Good luck with your revision. Thanks to the forum members over on The Student Room (TSR) for their tips – you can follow the thread link for more discussion.

Watch now: How to revise for your exams

Need more revision help? Our revision hub can help...

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