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Revision and exams

Revision strategies and techniques

When deciding on a revision strategy, it is useful to think about the most effective ways that you learn. Recognising how you learn means you can revise more efficiently and therefore save yourself time.

You may want to combine different techniques to create your own revision strategy.

Creating diagrams and mind-maps

You may find drawing pictures, diagrams and mind-maps helpful for revision. You might like to use colour or make patterns out of your notes.

Watch a demo of a mind-map being created for revision. You can draw mind-maps or spider diagrams by hand, or use computer software such as MindView and Coggle to allow for sharing with revision groups.

Making notes

Go through your papers and make condensed notes for exam purposes. You might want to use separate folders for each topic. These folders can be electronic, or you may want to use real physical folders, perhaps in different colours to help you get organised.

OneNote allows you to annotate lecture slides and materials and categorise them into different folders. OneNote can be downloaded for free, as part of the Student Advantage Office 365 pack.

You may find it useful to discuss your notes with other students, or read them out loud to yourself. Try recording yourself reading lecture notes or an essay and replaying it.

Take a look at our Note taking and note making resource (activity) for detailed advice and activities on general note making strategies.

Hands-on revision

You may learn best by hands-on practice and doing. Demonstrations, lab work examples and case studies can act as aids to revision. You may find it useful to re-enact situations while studying or make up actions to go with keywords or concepts. Use index cards or try making charts out of the key main points.

Rehearse exam answers

You might also want to practise writing exam answers. Mock exams can help you work out how much you will need to write within the time, and what you need to practise further.

Past exam papers are available at University of Leeds past examination papers.

There is useful advice from the Open University on writing a mock exam as part of your preparation.

Memory aids

Use memory aids such as flash cards and mnemonics to help you remember facts. Flash cards are particularly useful when you need to memorise large amounts of similar pieces of information, such as vocabulary or formulae.

Create online flashcards with Quizlet and choose from various study styles, whether that’s self-test or having the question and answer read out aloud. If flashcards don’t work for you, get creative and try simulating text conversations using the “Texting Story” app. You can create videos on “conversations”, where you could have one individual asking questions and the other replying with answers.

Sample flash cards (PDF)

You could also ask friends to test you on a few facts, figures, quotes, theories, or definitions.