How to make a revision timetable
Have you ever gone into an exam feeling like you haven’t really revised at all or your revision has been really random and not very effective? Having a revision timetable will help you to organise your revision effectively. This will make sure that you have revised everything before your exam without being in a rush the week before an exam. In this blog post I will describe the steps needed to make an effective revision timetable. I would suggest making a timetable at least one month before your first exam (depending on how many exams you have and how much you need to revise). This post is specifically written for A Level exams, although the stages could easily be adapted for other types of exams.
Gather everything you need
Before you start making a revision timetable you need to gather some important materials. Firstly, find your exam timetable. This should be given to you by your school or university and will tell you the date and time of each exam you have.
You will also need your exam syllabuses. These are where your course content is outlined and broken down. Make sure you have one for each exam you have so you know exactly what topics will be covered in each exam. You might be given one by your school or university. If not, for A Level exams they can generally be downloaded from your exam board’s website. If you still can’t find one then using the contents page of your text book will also work. You will also need a red, orange, and green pen.
You will then need something to write your timetable onto. This could be a piece of paper divided into different sections or a planner. It basically needs to have a space for each day between now and your exams. I would generally use a weekly planner but it doesn’t really matter.
In addition, make sure you have a selection of coloured pens and your diary/ planner/ school timetable with you.
Traffic light each exam
By this I mean going through each of your exam syllabuses and marking each individual topic with either red, orange, or green. Red is for topics you have no idea about and couldn’t answer any questions in an exam about. Orange is for topics that you know a bit about and could answer a question about but wouldn’t feel very confident doing so. Green is for topics that you know well and would feel confident answering a question about. If you are using the contents page of a textbook, do the same for each part listed in the contents. You can either do this directly onto the syllabus or book, or write each part on a separate piece of paper and traffic light them on there if you prefer.
You need to make sure you divide each subject up into little pieces for this, so each colour has an individual piece of information attached to it, rather than a big topic. By doing this your revision can be more specific and more focused on the most important areas (which will stop you wasting time on things you already know). This is why using an exam syllabus can be better than using a contents page of a textbook as they tend to divide the information up well. Once you have done this you should have a clear idea of what your best and worst topics are so you can prioritise your revision.
Write down exams and other ‘appointments’
On whatever is going to be your exam timetable, write down all your exams. This will allow you to see how spread out they are. Then write down anything else that you know will be happening between now and when your exam is. This includes lessons you have to go to and anything else such as clubs or activities. Basically anything that will happen at a specific time between now and your exams. Once you have done this you should be able to see what time left you have each day that can be used for revision. Don’t worry, you won’t be using ALL this time for revision because if you start revising early enough you will still have time to eat, sleep, and have plenty of free time.
Decide on a structure for your revision
Once you can see what time you have available between now and your exams you can start to plan when you want to revise each subject. You might prefer to revise one subject per day or do a bit of each subject every day, it doesn’t really matter as long as everything gets done. When you look at the time you have available you might find that you have more time on some days than others so you might want to plan to do things that will take the most time on those days.
Start with the most important topics
It is a good idea to start with the topics you find the hardest. These will be the ones that you marked in red. Start to write these in onto your revision timetable at specific times. Be clear about what you will be doing in each revision session so you know exactly what part of each subject you need to be doing. Make sure your revision sessions aren’t too long so you don’t lose concentration. Go through each topic that you marked as red and plan a time to do it. Then do the same for the topics you marked as orange. If you still have time before your exams then add in the things that you marked as green. Make sure you allow yourself revision breaks and don’t work too late into the evening so you can have a break before you go to bed.
You may like to colour code your timetable, for example using different colours for each subject or exam. This makes it easy to see how much time you are devoting to each subject or exam. (Also, it will look prettier which if you are like me will make you actually want to use it!)
Plan different activities
When you are writing down what to revise when, have a think about what revision activity you want to do. Depending on how confident you feel about the content of your exams you might want to start off by revising content and then moving on to doing past papers and questions. Alternatively, if you feel fairly confident about the content but struggle with applying the content to exam questions or find keeping to time in exams difficult then you might want to focus on past papers. Whatever you do, I would suggest making sure you do at least few past papers before the exam.
Make sure you have time to recap
Depending on how early you started revision, I would suggest aiming to finish revising for each exam somewhere between two weeks and a week before the exam. This allows you a bit of leeway if you get behind for any reason (you’re ill, your pet rabbit is ill, you end up going to a family reunion for a weekend etc.). If you do manage to stick to your plan then this allows you time to go back over any areas that need a bit of extra work. Once you have gone over everything, I would suggest ‘traffic lighting’ all the content again. This will allow you to see that you have improved and will show you which areas need to have a bit more work.
I hope this article has helped you to make an effective revision timetable – leave a comment to let me know 🙂