Now that we have organized and planned our studies, we come to the final task as we get near the exams – revision. I must confess that for me, revision is the task I dislike the most out of the whole studying process. I enjoy planning past papers, making checklists and even writing notes because they are creative and active tasks. Revision is boring because you’re essentially trying to make sure that you know everything that you have already learnt, there is nothing new! However, unless you have eidetic memory, revision is an essential task to the learning process and cannot be avoided. The following are a few ways I try to revise after doing past papers and writing notes.

Actively Reading Notes

During my IGs, I actually assigned 2 hours every day in my study leave with the task “READ NOTES!”; I absolutely hated those two hours but it was the only way I would read them. However at that time, I had the task incorrectly defined: reading notes could mean reading words and taking absolutely nothing in! To revise, you must actively engage with the text and the way you can do this is firstly keep a pencil or a highlighter in your hand; underline and highlight words and ideas that pop out to you. Summarize bullet points, explain an idea in your own words or create mnemonics and scribble it into the margin! Use the notes that are available on this website and make them your own by not just reading them but really engaging with them. In the end, if we gather every printed copy of a set of notes, they may all have the same printed content but each should look completely different with highlights and scribbles, making it unique to the person who uses it. Another way to interact with the notes is by reading it out loud and when doing so, rewording some of the points. In absolutely no case should you sit down, repeating each point a million times and memorize everything word for word. If you do so then you have learnt absolutely nothing and just a slight spin in a question will throw you off completely. I cannot stress this enough, if you do not engage with the notes then you have not utilized the full potential of the notes so do not expect your grades to boost themselves.

Revising Past Papers

Doing a past paper and attempting all the questions is just one part to using them as a revision tool – marking them and going through your mistakes is very important. I implore you do not just fill in your papers by copying the mark scheme because that is useless. Use the mark schemes effectively after writing an answer – edit and add to the answer to make sure you are using the correct terms and ideas. It is also a good idea to have a look at examiner reports if you find a question particularly challenging. Closer to your exams, you should have done a lot of past papers and found many mistakes. A long yet very useful task for you to carry out is to go through every past paper and note down specific topics you are facing issues with, new facts you have found that aren’t in your notes and model answers for questions you have repeatedly got wrong or ones that require very specific wording. This job can truly benefit you a lot but it does take time so you should be done at least a week or more before exams.

Writing Summaries

After spending hours on writing notes on this website – typing them, formatting them and making sure not even an extra word has been used – close to my exams I write a complete new set of notes. Although the notes online are already very summarized, the drawback is that it contains every syllabus specification. Near the exam, you should already have become aware of your weak topics so when I hand-write the notes, I take out a lot of information that I believe I do not need anymore and focus on my weakest topics especially areas where I have to memorize a lot. The notes are extremely basic and parts of it may not be even understandable because they are specifically meant for me – the abbreviations and symbols may not even make sense.

Above is a part of organic chemistry notes for AS
Above is a part of organic chemistry notes for AS

After writing things down at that level of summary, you should be able to recall a large quantity of information by looking at just a few words or symbols. Along with that, writing things out by hand may sound old-fashioned but it really makes a difference as it is slower and gives you more time to think about what you’re writing.


I hope some of the ideas I have shared above will be useful to you. However, this article is solely based on my own experiences so please do not consider this to be the perfect method; other ways of studying are out there and these could be more effective for you. Everything that I have recounted and shown are purely for the purpose of guiding and helping others.

If you have any questions or would like some advice, please leave a comment below and I will reply to you as soon as possible.