The Top 10 Revision mistakes made by students

November 15, 2018

The Top 10 Revision mistakes made by students

Over the past few years I have been coaching and training GCSE students, I have noticed a pattern emerging in terms of the reasons why year 10 and 11 students struggle to carry out revision effectively.  Here is my top 10 list:

  1. They start their revision too late. Sometimes it’s after the mock exam results in year 11 that students start to think about revision, but for many it can be as late as the Easter before they sit their exams. It’s very easy for students to put off revision, telling themselves that they will have plenty of time to ‘look over their notes’ before their exams or that they are doing enough revision in their lessons. It is much harder to put an effective revision plan in place if students don’t allow themselves enough time.
  2. They make unrealistic revision schedules. The main reason students don’t stick to a revision schedule is because it is unrealistic and physically unachievable. It is so important for students to take into account all their fixed commitments and then slot the revision in around them. Factoring in breaks and down time is also essential and something which often gets missed.
  3. Spend too long on one subject or topic. It’s very easy for students to waste a lot of time getting bogged down with one particular topic they are struggling to get to grips with. This is really bad for motivation and self esteem and can have a negative impact on their revision of other subjects. The best thing students can do if they are getting nowhere with a topic is to put it to one side and start something else. They can either return to it afresh at another time or ask a teacher for some help when they return to school.
  4. They don’t break their revision down into topics within the syllabus. Planning revision around a whole subject like biology for example is far more overwhelming than planning a one-hour revision session on cell structure.  By focussing on one smaller topic area at once is much better for motivation as students can set their objective for each revision session and tick off what they have covered, sending positive messages to the brain and keeping motivation high.
  5. They spend time making pretty resources, but don’t actually USE them. So many students tell me for example that flashcards don’t work for them. The reason for this is simple.  Students often spend a lot of time making beautiful flashcards, but then never actually use them practically and ask friends or family to use the cards to test them. The act of simply making a flash card is not enough for it to work as a revision resource.
  6. They focus on topics and subjects they know and enjoy. It’s more important for students to get to grips with the areas they aren’t as confident in than the ones they know well. It’s comforting to stick with what comes easiest, but factoring in the more challenging areas will result in better results.
  7. They stick to one revision method. Whether it’s reading and making notes, creating flashcards, mind maps or other methods, sticking one only one method can reduce the effectiveness of revision.  Some subjects lend themselves to different methods and also adding variety reduces boredom and improves motivation.
  8. They just read through their notes and copy them out. When students tell me how long they revise for, it can seem as though they are doing more than enough hours, but they are just not using the right method. Reading and copying is a very PASSIVE revision method. What can boost productivity and effectiveness massively are ACTIVE revision methods.  These include activities such as doing past papers, getting tested on flashcards, discussing topics with other students and researching additional material using alternative resources such as Internet searches, trips to the library or watching video tutorials and documentaries.
  9. They focus their attention on only learning content. Being able to regurgitate content and facts is only a part of being able to do well in GCSE exams. Exam question practice and feedback is also essential to getting good grades. See my blog called “The 3 phases of GCSE Revision” for more information on this.
  10. They fail to factor in self-care. Effective revision is not only about hour after hour of study. In order to maintain a good level of motivation and self-esteem it is essential that students take care of their bodies and minds. Getting enough sleep is vital for effective learning and memory. Physical activity can be a very effective way to break state of mind and refresh the brain before starting on a new topic. Healthy eating is also essential during revision periods. See my blog “Optimal Nutrition for Revision and Exams” for further details.

If your year 10 or 11 student could benefit from some additional help and learn strategies for effective GCSE revision, take a look at the HeadsUp! Workshops I deliver. They have been specifically designed to help GCSE students make the most of their revision and be able to accomplish more revision in less time, with less stress. Click here for full details and dates


Practical and interactive workshops to improve the effectiveness of GCSE revision and boost motivation.

Click HERE for more details


The HeadsUp! Webinar Programme is a series of 4 live and interactive webinars covering all aspects of GCSE revision.

Click HERE for more details


For students who prefer a more personalised approach, over 4 one hour 1-2-1 sessions we will cover a variety of techniques an strategies to improve GCSE revision strategy – either in person or via Skype

Click HERE for more details


for 7-11 year olds full of strategies to boost confidence, reduce worries, deal with anger and improve friendship skills.
Click HERE for more details


Calm Tookit for Parents stackEasy, useful and highly effective strategies to keep you in control even when your kids are pushing your buttons!
Click HERE for more details


Parent PowersA 4 week programme to take the stress out of being a parent and make family life more enjoyable.
HERE for more details

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This post was written by Beth Parmar