Connor Gormley Small

How to Get Through Your Revision Slump


Spring is something of a nightmare for students. Exams – a grand amorphous mass – have started emerging out from under the woodwork, your friends all seem to have birthdays and want to hang out, and the weather’s getting nice, the sun’s starting to assert its significance again – the chirpy foil to your escalating agony.

It’s a perfect, tortuous storm, enough to make you want to stop revision right then and there. Because it looks hard. Like, really, really hard. 

Calm down, I’m here to help.

1. Switch up your revision

By this point, revision might be pretty boring. You’ve revised for your GCSE’s, your AS’s, any number of mocks, and you’ve probably done it in your own time. By this point, it’s monotony personified; a vaguely tortuous procession of flashcards, mind-maps, power points and caffeine.

The idea of having to sit down to do it again, to go over the water cycle for the fifth time, Napoleon’s rise to power for the sixth time, Elizabethan sumptuary laws for the seventh, might fill you with the kind of dread usually reserved for convicts. There isn’t, unfortunately, a way of getting past that, but I have found a few ways of making it a touch easier.

How To Revise Effectively

I’ve found that shifting your revision to flex out your creative side eases the burden of having to actually do it. Because I like words and writing weird jokes, that usually means littering my revision with imaginary descriptions of Napoleon’s feet.

If you’re not me, however, and you’re not weird, you might want to draw symbols, little, giggly illustrations to reflect the broad themes of your revision. If you like talking to other human beings, like those people I occasionally see on TV, you might like to organise something with a group, start a session with friends and fire off questions at one another like a strange, knowledge-spouting hive mind. Maybe work outside, too, it’s actually possible now the weather’s improving, and it’s probably good for your health. I think.  

2. Get physical

Exercise always appears on these sort of lists, and you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s something people only talk about doing – an imaginary thing, relegated to motivational YouTube videos and adverts for gyms no one actually visits. Turns out, it’s actually pretty useful. More than anything, it’s a means of detoxification, it lets you stand up and move around and stop thinking about the water cycle.

When you’re nervous, there’s something intimidating about sitting down to revise. It means another slog, another hour or six dedicated to the grindstone. Exercise lets you hammer those anxieties out onto a treadmill or rowing machine, it lets you sit back down refreshed. So you should probably do it.

Exercise To Help The Brain

You dont even have to do anything drastic – just 30 minutes of light exercise can help productivity. Grab a friend, go for a walk in the fresh air, and return to your revision refreshed and relaxed.

3. Music, music, music

Admit it to yourself. Listening to music whilst studying is distracting. If you’re not listening to The Smiths, whisked away by lyrics about desolate hillsides and lights which refuse to go out, you’re trawling YouTube, looking for something else to listen to. It provides a handy excuse, an immediate means of delaying the work. ‘I can’t work yet’ you might say, or ‘I have to find the right tune’. And so your work sits there, languishing, for hours on end, frustratingly unfinished.

Music Helps Study

The trick, really, is to listen to music without words in it, music that provides a kind of background chatter that’s enough to accompany your work but never distract you from it. That sort of thing is easy enough to find, after all; there are an endless number of electronic homework mixes on YouTube, hour long loops of sweet, soothing melodies.

Find them, they’re useful. Really really useful.