An Excellent Revision Strategy

Last time we discussed Strategies For Exam Success I promised to help you to learn and revise better. Do you have a revision plan that works? If you do, please let us know what works for you (using the reply box at the end). If not, may I suggest an excellent way to study and recall the information during exam time, allowing the brain to work at its best

The following process takes a while to explain but it is actually quite simple and soon it will become second nature. You’ll also see the benefits when you need to study for extended periods.


  1. Allow a revision time of between 20 and 90 mins (maximum).
  2. Break down your revision topics in 20 mins segments.
  3. Have everything you need to hand, papers, pens, highlighters, water… and a timer or alarm clock.
  4. Make sure your desk and chair are set so you are comfortable and ready to begin.
  5. Now breathe in slowly, and even slower out, to get into a good relaxed but alert state, just a couple of mins will do.

First 20 minutes session

  1. Set your alarm for 20 mins.
  2. Decide what your goal is. (e.g. “learn key facts about the second world war”).
  3. Scan your first topic (to show your brain what it needs to do in these 20 mins).
  4. Now go back over the information and really learn it, using a highlighter to emphasise anything important.
  5. At the end of 20 mins, quickly scan what you have learnt/written.
  6. Now scan what you are going to learn in your next segment of 20 mins revision and set your goal (the brain needs to know what is coming up to help it focus).

Short Break

  • Leave the room for 1 min (go into another room and try not to speak to anyone, alternatively just look out of the window).
  • Take a drink of water then go back to your study room and your desk.

Next 20 Minutes Session

  1. Quickly scan the last session you just revised before the break, noticing any particular highlighted text.
  2. Set your next alarm for 20 mins.
  3. Quickly scan the next session you are going to do (what you just scanned before you left the room).
  4. Set your next goal.
  5. Learn until the alarm sounds, highlighting the most important facts as before.
  6. At the end of 20 mins, quickly re-scan what you have learnt/written.
  7. Scan the next piece of work and know your goal.
  8. Have your 1 min break (as above).

After doing a few of these sessions you need a longer break, so you’ll have a choice…

Meal Break

If you need to have lunch or dinner:

  • Stop for 1 hour.
  • No reading or studying just really switch off and enjoy yourself.
  • You might even go for a bit of a walk or run.
  • At your return go back to you “next 20 mins session” but re-scan every session you’ve learnt so far.

10 Minutes Break

If it’s not the time for a meal:

  • Take a 10 mins break out of the room.
  • At your return go back to you “next 20 mins session” but re-scan every session you’ve learnt so far.


  • The brain tends to remember the first and last things easily.
  • If you keep working in this way, what you learn goes into the “long-term storage” part of your brain, hence all the scanning of beginnings and endings of segments so don’t skip them.
  • Take at least 2 major breaks in the day, ideally getting out of the house as it really helps you be more productive and balanced.
  • The next day, quickly scan everything you did the day before, especially the highlighted notes.
  • Most people find a natural rhythm starts to happen and revision doesn’t seem so overwhelming because you broke it down into smaller chunks, which the brain likes.