How to motivate yourself to revise

Motivated student revising in a library
Use our eight tips to get motivated and find enthusiasm for your revision. They’ll help you to focus and create order.

No motivation to revise? Don’t worry. It’s natural to feel unmotivated around exam time, which may cause you to resort to procrastination as a way to kill time. Perhaps you feel scared because there’s too much ahead or grouchy because you’ve let your diet slip. These kinds of situations have an impact on your productivity, which means you’ll struggle to focus on the task at hand. Here are some tips to remedy these situations and get you on track for exam success.

1. Give yourself a revision pep talk

If you’re not feeling confident about exams then it follows that you won’t want to work hard. You might be tempted to stay in bed in a coma until 3.00 pm. Don’t be discouraged by a poor performance in mocks. Give yourself a pep talk so that you can manufacture the confidence you need. You can look at essays where you have done well or reread motivating comments from teachers. Concentrate on positive aspects and you’ll start to realise your capability; hard work pays off! Alternatively, you could get the syllabus for each exam you are sitting and lay them all in front of you. This will work as a shock tactic to remind you of how much you need to cover.

PS – One gimmicky thing you can do is write down your desired grades and put them in an envelope; now, when you feel a lack of motivation, you can imagine yourself opening the letter and how great it would feel to achieve good grades. It sounds cheesy but it will help!

2. Start your revision with something fun

If you kick off with something interesting, this will help you gather some momentum. Just get stuck in! Perhaps you’ve read an article or seen a documentary that has reminded you of a topic you find interesting. For instance, you could have enjoyed watching Planet Earth. Why not start by going on Wikipedia to look at an animal that caught your eye? You can roam about for a bit then bring the focus onto topics relevant to your biology syllabus, such as animal anatomy or types of reproduction.

3. Go cold turkey on gadgets and social media

Social media is highly addictive and you can spend a lot of the day aimlessly browsing it. You shouldn’t spend lots of valuable time religiously refreshing Facebook. You could temporarily disable your social media accounts and applications (there’s an app that will do this for you) or give your Facebook password to someone you trust and ask them to change it until exams are over. You can also put your phone on ‘airplane mode’ to help resist this temptation. Try swapping your phone with your friends or family while you revise so that you can’t go on it until you take a break. In terms of gaming, you can go cold turkey by having your controllers to your console confiscated. If you need background noise, listening to ambient music is a good option, since there isn’t the distraction of lyrics. Put on a playlist and leave it on – don’t faff around choosing a different song every ten minutes.

4. Monitor what you eat to give you energy and focus

The ‘watch your diet’ tip has been around forever but it’s worth reiterating. Don’t waste time making decadent snack platters because you’ll lose momentum. It’s easy to waste a lot of time staring blankly into the fridge expecting the contents to be miraculously replenished. To combat this, have things you can grab from the kitchen so you can return quickly to your desk.

You should be careful about your eating habits. Be wary of stimulants: caffeine and sugar might give you a short-term boost, but you’ll end up feeling depleted if you overindulge. You can replace sugary snacks with healthier alternatives like pitta with dips, antipasti and salad (very bourgeois I know). Drink tea instead of coffee; it contains a smaller amount of caffeine.

PS – Be careful of branded coffee because of its high-levels of sugar and caffeine. Stick to your daily guideline allowance of caffeine, which is 400mg (four cups of coffee).

5. Make your pile of revision notes more inviting

Notes shoved haphazardly into a decaying graffiti-covered ring binder will not inspire you to start revision. To ease yourself in, you can gather all your papers and divide them into groups: take a look at every page and sort them into topic piles. This might seem like a laborious task, but it’s actually helping you learn as you go, where you can arrange things chronologically and thematically in your mental filing cabinet. Maybe you’ll find some notes that jog your memory for a particular topic, or maybe you’ll find a bug squashed between forgotten pages. Who knows? It’s a lottery.

Having your notes organised divided into piles will save you time in the future because you can quickly sort through them to take out exactly what you need. When you’ve done this, you can visualise how much you need to get done in a day by counting the number of pages you’ve picked out. It breaks things down into manageable chunks so the revision process becomes less intimidating.

6. Tidy your room so you actually want to be there

A bedroom bombsite of strewn dirty clothes and cups of congealed tea is not a healthy working environment; perhaps your nagging parent is right. Get rid of that pubescent stink: crack open a window, put a wash on, take away those cups, clear your desk and hoover the floor. If you’re trying to declutter your mind by using plans and notes, then applying the same policy to your room is sensible. Having a tidy space means less distraction and more work: you won’t be tempted to fiddle with trinkets and electronic gadgets you’ve left on your desk.

7. Plan rewards after revision

It’s easy to let your social life fall by the wayside when you’re revising, but you should plan nice activities to look forward to – you aren’t a machine. It’s good to have something at the weekend to focus on. You can get cinema tickets, book a table at a restaurant or go bowling.

8. Get up and about

The old adage is that ‘variety is the spice of life’ – fill your day with physical and mental variety. Start the day by going for a walk. If you are doing a mammoth task on a computer, take 15 minute breaks to avoid eye strain and grab a cup of tea to recharge. You’ll find that changes throughout the day will provide you with stamina to keep working, otherwise you’ll end up falling asleep at your dessssffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

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