It is a well-known fact that studying is the only way to boost your grades but revising is not as simple as it first seems. Many students struggle to keep themselves motivated throughout their preparations for exams, whether this be GCSEs, A-Levels etc. If you identify with this and are struggling to keep driving on through your revision, then do not fret, as there are plenty of simple, straightforward and swift techniques and habits you as a student can undertake to keep up your motivation to learn and study. If you are struggling to keep motivated to revise, then don’t worry; you are not alone. Many students have a hard time keeping their spirits up, and energy levels often run low as exams draw nearer.
There are many different methods you as a student can undertake to keep encouraged and powering through. These include getting enough sleep, managing your time, taking breaks, going outside and even simply making sure that you have a tidy workspace! Everyone will find different tips help them in different ways, but you should certainly consider trying as many of these techniques as possible.
This article will share some top tips that will ensure you can keep motivated to study throughout your revision time.
1. Keep Motivated By Planning Your Time
Revision can stack up, especially before exam season and can end up feeling overwhelming, which can reduce your motivation to study since it feels as though studying all the material is an impossible feat. However, by utilising the correct tools, you can ensure you cover all the revision in thorough detail, and perhaps even have some time left over before the exam. This tip will go over how to create a topic planner and a revision timetable, with which you can organise your time in the most constructive way possible to avoid procrastination and to conquer your revision.
Use a Topic Planner
Firstly, a topic planner. A topic planner is a basic table which aids you in separating your subjects into individual topics, which you can then feed into your revision timetable (more on that below). Each planner represents one singular subject (so for two subjects you would need two planners). The topic planners which can be found in the CGP books ‘How to Revise For GCSEs’ and ‘How To Revise for A-Levels’ are fantastic examples. To fill them in, you must first write down the name of the subject/s that you need to study for the exam. Then, separate them into specific topics (for example, you may write ‘Maths: Surds, Factorising, Pythagoras Theorem’).
Next, you should write the specific topics into the table under the ‘Topic’ section. Now fill in how comfortable you are with each topic by ticking the correct box. Once you have identified this, you can work on revising topics you are not so certain on, so you are fit to go when your exam rolls around. The topic planner helps you visually understand what needs to be done, and also helps you to see your progress. They are incredibly helpful when it comes to filling in your revision timetable.
Now, onto the revision timetable. I would that you read this useful article about how to make an effective revision timetable. The basics, however, are as follows. To fill a revision timetable in, you first need to write in your session times in the designated boxes on the rows, for example, you could fill it in as 10:00-11:00, 11:00-12:00 and so on. When choosing your times, you must keep in mind that it should not alter your daily routine; you shouldn’t start at 6AM if you normally wake up at 8AM. Make it realistic! Next, choose a session to be put aside for lunch break. Lunch is essential to fuel your body, and also to give you a break from constant revision. Make sure to also fill in any clubs you attend– this will avoid you having to skip a topic to attend this club instead.
Creating a revision timetable and topic planner can help you feel like you’re more in control, and that the revision seems less daunting and more conquerable. Having an organised routine can help you to feel more motivated as it helps you to comprehend exactly what you need to achieve and when; it guarantees that revision isn’t piling up and overwhelming you.
2. Make Sure You Have a Tidy Workspace
An untidy workspace is definite to increase your negative thoughts and make revision seem much more difficult than it has to be. The mess can make an impact on the way you think, and make you feel dejected and demotivated. Tidying up your workspace can change this mindset, increasing your sense of motivation.
You should try and find a quiet place with a stable, flat surface– this is imperative, as it can help to shift your focus onto learning (due to its strong correlation with school) and working on your bed or the sofa may make you counterproductive, since your mind links these with relaxation and sleep. Try and remove all electronics from the room, or at least shut them down– they can be major distractions when it comes to studying. However, don’t worry if you have to use a computer to work, as obviously you need to have the relevant materials to hand to revise.
If you find yourself getting commonly distracted by your computer or phone, there are certain applications you can download to prevent this in the future. Below you will find a shortlist of the most effective and useful tools on the internet to eliminate any off-putting distractions:
- On Google Chrome, you can add an extension for free called ‘Forest’. This extension is extremely useful when it comes to studying, or any type of focusing at that. When used, the app will grow a virtual tree. On the app, you create a ‘black-list’- this list may include distracting sites such as YouTube and Netflix- and if you attempt to visit these sites, the app will block them. You can give up to visit them, but this will kill your tree. Thousands of students globally use this tool and have found it very beneficial towards keeping them focused on their studies. As mentioned, it is free of charge, so downloading it can promote a more positive experience revising.
- Forest is also available on mobile, however it does cost money this way, but the price is a mere £1.99, so this app will not break the bank and will let you succeed while revising, and resist temptation.
- There is also a free version by the same company on mobile called Flora, which is free, so if you don’t fancy paying the fee then downloading this may be a better option for you.
Having a light in the room or nearby is vital– this will help so you don’t strain your eyes and is also a basic necessity when it comes to studying. You should also have stationary nearby, to decrease the number of times you have to break your focus to retrieve the items. Also, closing your door may be an advantageous idea, as it shuts out any distracting background noise.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure your desk is tidy. An untidy desk is overwhelming and can result in counterproductivity, so having everything neat and organised gives you more space to work and can give you more headspace. Investing in some stationary organisers may be beneficial to you- they typically cost only a few pounds, and if they help you to stay motivated to study then you will definitely profit from it in the long run.
3. Know Why You Are Revising
Before revising, it may be valuable to you to understand why you are revising, and what you hope to achieve. Setting goals and targets can help you feel motivated as it gives you a purpose and something to strive for. Recognising what you really want can help you work harder and more productively, because you can see a clear image of your goal in your mind, making it seem much more attainable. Perhaps you would like to get into Sixth Form? Or go to your dream university?
Wherever you reasoning lies, make sure you identify it so you can raise your spirits and start working hard towards your goal. Scientists have also conducted research which has shown the following: writing down your goals improves your motivation, increases your focus and reduces your stress levels. Writing down your goals can also help you break them up into more manageable pieces, so they don’t seem as overwhelming, and can help motivate you to start working towards them.
4. Take Regular Breaks Throughout Your Revision
Taking breaks in between study sessions is imperative to ensure you can stay focused on your work without burning out, which in turn will help you feel more motivated to study. If you don’t split your study sessions into chunks, your revision can seem endless, and you will likely be mindlessly flicking through textbooks or writing down notes without thinking, which are not effective ways to revise.
Taking breaks can help put the end into perspective, so you can work towards finishing your session. You may even end up, believe it or not, enjoying your revision and getting into a flow, and if this happens it is OK to skip out on a break- just make sure to make up for the lost time later on. You don’t have to stick to a rigid timetable– allow yourself some flexibility, and you can feel more in control, organised and motivated.
When using your revision timetable, you must take into account that each session (however long they may be) should include a break. If your session is an hour long, then a 10-minute break is required to relax your mind and prevent burnout. You could spread this break out into two 5-minute breaks integrated into the hour- just do what’s best for you.
5. Set Small Targets with Rewards to Motivate Yourself to Complete Your Revision
Another way to keep yourself motivated is to excite yourself with the prospect of a reward once you surpass a target. Rewards do not just have to be after you hit a big milestone (e.g. completing your exams)- as stated in the title, set yourself a small goal, and then reward yourself for accomplishing it. For example, you could set yourself a goal to complete a practise paper or finish a tricky topic. The reward for this could be to have a movie night or play your favourite video game. Whatever the reward might be, it will certainly help you to work towards achieving your goals.
6. Plan a Treat for After Your Exams So You are Motivated to Work Towards a Goal
All the studying you will do will amount towards your grade in the exam you are currently studying for. To help you feel more motivated to work hard, you could plan a reward for after your exams. This could be a trip to the cinema, a day out with family or friends… the choices are endless. It doesn’t have to be expensive- just something you would enjoy and anticipate. The prospect of an exciting treat can help you to work towards it, and it is also simply a pleasant feeling to receive a reward and be recognised for all your hard work and the achievements you will then gain.
7. Go for a Walk to Clear Your Head Before You Start Revising
Although it may sound like a misuse of valuable time, going for a walk before studying actually reaps many benefits. Getting out into the fresh air will clear your head, almost like pressing reset, and can calm you form the stresses of revision. Before revising, it could be a good idea for you to go out for a quick stroll- even if it’s only 5 minutes- as something is always better than nothing.
Getting out for a walk in nature is a natural stress-buster. It does many things to assist your learning, as it can help centre and focus your mind, plus it releases endorphins, the chemical your brain releases that gives you feeling of happiness and cheer, all of which is looked into with thorough detail and evidence in this useful article. You may find going for a walk is the last thing you want to do, but trust in the process, and be confident that you will return feeling refreshed in your mind and will find yourself more able and willing to sit down for a study session.
8. Make Sure You Drink Water Throughout Your Study Session
Drinking water has surprising benefits and contributes positively to many aspects of your physical health and mental wellbeing, and of course, your motivation. Water helps you concentrate by supplying the brain with the electrical energy it needs to function properly, which in turn helps to improve your focus, your critical thinking and increases the amount of information you retain, which is extremely beneficial when revising. Drinking water also improves your mood, so you feel brighter and more up to a challenge, and helps you to sleep better, which will help immensely with your motivation.
Water tends not to be the preferred drink, and many people would much rather drink something else. So the question lies- can you replace water for another drink? Unfortunately for some, the short answer is no- water cannot be replaced. Fluids such as cordial and hot drinks that include a large concentrate of water, and also foods such as fruit and vegetables, could serve as an alternative option, however water is the favoured choice.
9. Start with the Easier Topics to Prepare Yourself for More Difficult Tasks
When studying for exams, there is always a wide range of topics that have to be understood and retained in your memory, and with that comes a range of difficulty. Some topics are going to come easier than others, and sometimes the ones that are more challenging can end up getting you down, therefore causing you to feel unmotivated and despondent. Starting with easier topics can prepare you for the tougher ones and get you into to the studying mood so when it comes to reviewing the harder information you can really focus and give it your best shot.
However, you should try not to leave the more demanding topics until the very end of the day; by this time, you will most likely be tired and preparing yourself to finish, so your attention span may be shorter, and your brain might be too tired to deal with the more demanding topics. It is also recommended to only do this if you feel the difficult topics are overwhelming you; sometimes, getting the most arduous obstacle out of the way first can make your life easier later on.
This advice may seem conflicting, but you need to decide which position you are in. Would starting with easier work motivate you to feel accomplished by completing harder tasks, or would you prefer to get the most difficult aspects of your work out of the way first so that you know it will be done?
10. Ensure You are Getting Plenty of Sleep to Boost Your Motivation
Getting enough sleep is vital to ensure you can wake up to a more contented and productive day. At least 8 hours of sleep is recommended to help you feel refreshed and ready to go when you awake in the morning. Keep in mind that receiving a substantial amount of sleep does not necessarily mean a dramatic change in your sleep schedule, for example waking up in the early hours of the morning, so don’t let this put you off if you find you are not a ‘morning person’. This interesting article discusses the findings of Dr. Matthew Carter (a sleep specialist)’s research about the correlation between sleep and productivity, and how imperative it is in improving your sense of motivation.
If you do not obtain the recommended hours of sleep, it is likely you will wake up feeling bleary and irritable and end up having an unproductive and lethargic day, which is not a helpful frame of mind when it comes to revising and studying. Do take into mind that different people need different amounts of sleep- some people can thrive on 6 or 7 hours, while others need 9 or 10. It just depends and finding out which is right for you can help you to feel more motivated and ready to study. Ensuring you get the right amount of sleep makes sure you take care of yourself and don’t damage your incentive or wellbeing.
11. Don’t Late-Night Cram If You Want to Remain Motivated
You may be wondering why this is on the list- this article is about motivation to study, not how to study! You may be surprised to hear that late-night crams can have some detrimental effects for you in the future. Many students fall into the trap of thinking that staying up all night is going to give you more time to learn the material, and help you get more done– however, most of the things you ‘learn’ during that time is actually wasted, as it ‘goes in one ear then out the other’ so to speak.
Fatigue will affect your memory and lack of sleep will lead you to feel demotivated and unwilling to learn the material, even during your most productive hours, late–night crams are often the result of neglecting revision in the past and having an exam coming up, or students feeling the need to spend lots of time on their material.
When cramming your revision until the early hours of the morning, you will likely be despising every second, and trying your hardest to drive yourself towards the end half-heartedly. Revising during the day, especially with a good night’s sleep, will be much more effective.
All the tips mentioned in this article can help to prevent you from undertaking late–night crams, as you will be more organised and have little need to even think about staying up past the time that you normally would. As almost everyone has bad experiences and memories from late-night crams, your brain can associate those bad feelings of tiredness, confusion, and exhaustion with studying itself, which is obviously not a correct representation of the experience you should be undergoing.
This can lead to you procrastinating to avoid these bad feelings and mental struggle, and not obtaining any motivation to study. That’s not to say, though, that if you have stayed up late to revise before that you will never be able to study properly again; it’s just something you should take note of and steer clear of in the future.