How students can make themselves revise even when they’re not in the mood

May 15, 2018


Time is running out till GCSEs start and there are many students out there who have got so much revision to do and they are just not motivated to get on with. I hear it all the time from students I work with. Procrastination and lack of motivation are killers!

Let’s have a closer look at some of the most common excuses students use for not jumping in and getting down to revision - and some tips to overcome these evasion tactics.

  1. They don’t know where to begin

When we have too much to do it can be very tempting not to do anything at all. We just don’t know where to start. The thing is, it doesn’t matter where you start. Doing anything is better than doing nothing at all. The hardest part of a revision session is making a start and knowing what it is you are going to actually do over the time you have available.

TIP: Break down the work into smaller manageable chunks and then set yourself the task of just completing a small section. It’s much less daunting to start a revision session focussed on revising ‘cell structure’ for example than going into revision facing ‘biology’ as a whole. Break down revision into small 45-minute chunks against the subject syllabus and focus on becoming clear about exactly what small part you are going to cover at each sitting. Before you know it, bit-by-bit you will have covered the whole syllabus

  1. They tell themselves there are too many distractions

When we are faced with a daunting task or something we don’t feel up to, it’s easy to get distracted by checking social media, watching an episode (or several!) on Netflix, texting a friend – doing anything to not have to get started. Here’s the thing though: doing something is not the same as being productive. You may be focussing your attention on something, but it’s not the activity that is going to get you the grades you are capable of. You don’t have to give up these activities that are currently distracting you though.

TIP: A useful strategy is to change how you see these activities and focus on them being rewards that you enjoy after the revision is done rather than distractions that stop you from getting started. Once you see that you can still enjoy them after your work is done, they can become a very powerful motivator for you to get the revision done, as you will feel so much less guilty if you are engaged in them once your revision is out of the way.

  1. They simply don’t like it

This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. It can be very hard to get started on something you don’t like to do or even hate to do. Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to develop an interest in some subjects that simply will never be of interest to you.

TIP: Rather than leaving these subjects till last, make it a rule that you cannot touch any other topic until you’ve finished at least a part of the dreaded one. It’s often the case that you build things up to be far worse when they are in your head before you start. Once you actually get down to the subject you don’t like, it never usually as bad as you’d built it up to be. And in any case once it’s out of the way you can focus on other subjects you enjoy more!

  1. They find it boring

It’s not always easy to knuckle down and get the books out to study, especially when there are more exciting things to be doing with your time. Boredom often comes from doing the same thing over and over.

TIP: Add some variety to your revision strategy. It’s boring just focusing on reading revision guides and copying out notes. Why not try adding some new techniques? How about recording your notes using your phone so you can play them back while you’re in the car, out for a walk or lying in bed? Making some flash cards? Creating really colourful mind maps using A3 paper and felt pens? Getting together with friends to form a study group? Watching videos on your subject matter? Trying to teach the concept to someone else? Sometimes varying the place of revision can alleviate boredom too. Also using new stationery can provide you with a fresh feeling.

  1. They think they are not up to the task – they can’t do it

There’s a thought process here that sets you up for failure. You put the revision off because you cannot get past thoughts of failure. What’s going to happen if I can’t do it? How am I going to do this? Could I fail my exams? Procrastination itself is failure—failure to utilise your innate talents and abilities. When you procrastinate, you’re failing to believe in yourself. On the other hand, if you believe you can do something and you visualise the positive results that can come from that, you set yourself up for success. Remember the saying: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.

TIP: Spend time focussing on the scenario that you can do your revision and visualise yourself coming out of the exam room having completed your paper to the best of your ability, or perhaps the moment you open your exam results in August and they are the grades you are really capable of. Switching the visualisation away from procrastination and failure makes a massive difference to mindset and ensures a much greater chance of success.

If you would like to learn more about successful GCSE revision take a look at the HeadsUp! Revision Strategy Workshops I run

Or perhaps you would prefer a more personalised approach via one to one revision coaching sessions? Why not arrange a FREE 15 minute consultation call with me to find out more…..



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This post was written by Beth Parmar