So your exams are coming up, and you’re wondering how to get motivated to revise. It’s a problem that many of us face and you’re not alone.
Don’t worry, you will get there. Sometimes starting is the worst part and once you get a little bit of revision under your belt, you might feel much better and much more motivated to get some serious revision done for your upcoming exams.
Here are a few of our top tips on how to be more confident when you get set an essay, and how to get motivated to revise – from giving yourself a potentially much-needed pep talk to planning your days out.
Recognise the challenge
We procrastinate when we want to avoid doing something. The task that we avoid is usually something we care about doing well or something that holds a lot of weight for us. It feels much easier to organise our closet or even to clean the flat than to open up our laptop and face the revision head-on.
By recognising our revision as what it is – just reading, taking notes and reminding ourselves of what we’ve already learned – it can lose some of that weight and seem a little bit more manageable. Remind yourself that perfect is the enemy of the good – by not making a start, you get no revision done. So, just tell yourself you’ll read a chapter or an article per day, then you might find that getting into the swing of things is all you needed to get motivated to revise.
So, if you find that getting started is the main hurdle, it might be time to give yourself a pep talk – just get started and it will get easier from then on.
Plan your days
The worst thing you can do when it comes to revising for your end-of-term exams is to leave it all to the very last minute. It will be stressful and you’ll only be able to do the bare minimum. So, take some time to make yourself a plan of action. It’s a good idea to do this sooner rather than later. You can print out a blank day-by-day planner for however many weeks you have until your exams. Even if it’s just a few days until then, this is worth doing. Work out how much time you need to spend on each unit, subject or topic, then divide your days or weeks up accordingly. Doing this often helps a huge task feel more manageable. If you struggle with time management or are easily overwhelmed, try time blocking.
This is where you divide your day into blocks of time to suit your schedule. Include activities that you know you want to work around like going to the gym or activities run by a society you are part of. If you have 3 units that you need to study for, this might feel like a lot more than you can handle. But once you see, visually on a piece of paper, how many hours of study you can actually fit into a week, it might feel like a much more manageable task. By dividing every day (from Monday to Friday) into 3 blocks of time each, that would be 15 individual study sessions available to you in just one week – 5 for each unit.
These could be a morning session, an afternoon session and then a quick evening session. Plus, your weekends are kept free! Don’t forget to print your plan out and pin it up. That way, you will be reminded of the progress you’re making every day, as well as the work you still need to get to.
You could also plan around when you’re at your strongest. Many people feel like they are at their most productive when they wake up in the mornings, while others need some time to get going and feel more switched on later in the day. Whichever group you fall into, use this to your advantage and tackle the trickiest subjects whenever your brain is working at its best.
Short-term pain, long-term gain
It might feel like you’d much rather be out with your friends or chilling in the communal room of your flat with your flatmates, but putting the hours in now, when it comes to revising, will really pay off later on in term, and especially later on in life! If you’re struggling when it comes to how to get motivated to revise, just remember why you’re at university in the first place. Think about when you graduate and what classification you would like your degree to have. If you’re aiming for that first honours, you will need to put the effort in all throughout your time at university and not just the final year.
Maybe you need a prompt to remind you. How about putting a picture up in your room that’s associated with your goal? A drawing of a graduation mortarboard could be pinned up above your desk, or a photo of the city you want to be working and living in when you get that dream job that your degree will eventually get you. Little prompts or reminders like this should help remind you that your revision is all about short-term pain, but long-term gain.
Make use of your classmates
Do you have friends that are studying for the same units you are? If so, you might find it more motivating to revise in group study sessions. You can quiz each other on what you’ve all been learning and find out more from them than what you’ve been reading. As well as this, research shows that when you share what you’ve been learning, it helps to cement that information in your own head.
So when it comes to exam day, you’ll be able to get the same information down on paper in a much clearer way. If you find that you and your classmates are all struggling for time on the run-up to your exam, you could conquer and divide – each taking a certain topic to study really well, then when you get together, everyone can share what they’ve learned. You might find that what they can share in 15 minutes is more than you would’ve been able to read at home in a whole morning.
Even if you find you’re much better at studying solo most of the time, breaking out of your routine and talking about the content can be a welcome and healthy break.
Be clear about what you need
If you find it difficult to get yourself motivated to study and you’re easily distracted by others, you might find that you allow yourself to be swept up in what friends, family or your flatmates are doing. It might feel a lot easier to join your flatmates for a movie night than to tackle the books, but there will be lots of time for that later. This is the time to knuckle down and focus on your studies.
You might need to communicate clearly to the people around you that you need your own space for the next few days, weeks or even months to really focus on your exam preparation. By doing this, you are managing their expectations of you for that time which means you’re more likely to be left in peace and less likely to be tempted into socialising when you should be getting your revision underway. If noise or a busy household distracts you, you might feel a little more motivated to study if you go to the library. There, you will get the peace and quiet you need focus. Plus, separating your study space from your home space is a good idea for your mental health.
Put your devices in another room
Finally, we all know that social media is addictive. On the run up to your exams, remove that temptation by removing your phone completely. Set it in another room, even if just for an hour at a time. This will allow you to focus more completely on what you’re reading. Then, you can use a quick scroll to reward yourself at the end of a good study session.
So when it comes to exam day, you’ll be able to get the same information down on paper in a much clearer way. If you find that you and your classmates are all struggling for time on the run-up to your exam, you could conquer and divide – each taking a certain topic to study really well, then when you get together, everyone can share what they’ve learned. You might find that what they can share in 15 minutes is more than you would’ve been able to read at home in a whole morning. Even if you find you’re much better at studying solo most of the time, breaking out of your routine and talking about the content can be a welcome and healthy break.