So, you’ve read every “Top Ten Revision Techniques” blog there is. You know all about making flashcards, you’ve downloaded every possible past paper and you’ve watched that video about the blurting method. Every single one has the same point though – learn how to make a revision timetable and stick to it.
Now, we all know that it’s really important – it helps organise your time, cover everything you need to and it can also help your wellbeing.
However, it can be impossible to know where to start with a revision timetable. Don’t worry though! This blog has a step-by-step guide to break down exactly how to make a revision timetable.
We’ve also chatted to Jo who sat her GCSEs a couple of years ago to get her input.
How to Make a Revision Timetable – Tip 1
Start by prioritising subjects
Your science teacher is probably telling you that science is the most important exam you will sit… and your English teacher claims it’s English… and your maths teacher claims it’s maths.
You need to decide what is your priority. This doesn’t mean you will only revise this subject, but it may mean you spend a bit more time on revising one subject. For example, if you need a grade 6 in chemistry and you are currently getting a grade 5, this might be a priority for you. The flipside also works, but make sure you don’t leave any subject untouched – this is a recipe for disaster.
This is the list Jo made for the subjects she sat and why she prioritised them.
My top priorities were English Literature and physics. I was at risk of not getting a 4 in English Lit and I needed a 7 in physics to do the A Levels I wanted.Jo
I didn’t prioritise German because I knew I could get a 4 and that’s all I needed.
This list might change as you go through exams – you may want to prioritise one subject for a little bit and then move away from it. The dates of the exams will also have a huge impact on this!
Set yourself realistic work times
Start by deciding what time you are going to get up each day. You don’t need to get up at 5am to get a few hours in before school but neither should you sleep till midday every weekend. Find a balance that works for you and remember it might be different to someone else.
I’m an early morning person, so I got up at 8:30 on weekends but rarely worked past 7 or 8pm. For me, it was important to have some downtime before bed. My best friend was the opposite though. She waited until everyone had left the house before getting out of bed and would work late into the night – we just were at our best at different times.Jo
Block out any time you know you can’t revise
Your school may give you exam leave, but most schools are moving away from it. You will be doing some revision during school hours but you won’t always have control on what you’re revising. Block out the times you can’t revise.
It’s also worth adding in any time you need for part-time jobs or extra-curricular activities. You don’t need to stop doing these.
Three times a week, I look after 2 kids after school. I can do some work when I’m there but never anything too complex. I also row every Saturday and Sunday morning so I started blocking out these times to make sure I could keep up my job and hobby.Jo
Now is also the time to build in a social life! Give yourself a couple of evenings off to make sure you can still see friends and family without feeling guilty!
Break each day into smaller chunks
Now you have the hours you can work, break the day into small bitesize chunks. A good place to start is by doing 50 minutes on one topic and then having a short break – 50 minutes is about as long as most brains can focus on a single task. You might find that you need shorter sessions or that the sessions can get longer as you get used to self-study.
Remember those breaks though! Make sure you include a proper break for meal times and try to get outside in one of them!
I am easily distracted, so I only revised for 25 minutes at a time and then took a 5 minute break – it’s called the Pomodoro technique. It doesn’t work for everyone and sometimes I needed to have a longer session to do a past paper or something.Jo
Start the day with something you like
The first session in the morning is always the hardest – you’ve only just woken up and it takes a while for the morning caffeine to do it’s job. To help ease you into the day, start with a subject you like or find easy to revise. Another alternative is to start by quizzing yourself on the previous day’s work or carefully planning which topics you want to cover today.
For me, the first part of the day was about reviewing what I’d done yesterday and planning out what I was going to do today. I knew the subjects I had to cover each day, but I would pick the topic or task based on how I was feeling.Jo
Balance your sessions… but keep it flexible!
Remember that priority list? Use it to make sure the subjects that are important to you get enough time. Don’t neglect other subjects though – there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got something covered and then letting yourself down by not preparing!
Remember, you can (and should) change your timetable as the exams go on – your priorities will change and so will your motivation levels!
Use colour… but not too much!
You want your timetable to look nice but you shouldn’t spend too long on it – remember it’s main function is to keep you on track.
My first revision timetable was a work of art!! But, by the end of exams, they were scribbled on scraps of paper. I would say somewhere in between is best.Jo
Use our template to get you started. Use the column on the right-hand side to set out your priorities. Aim to do 2-3 sessions for each subject at the start, though this may change depending on your schedule!