Revision techniques that don’t work

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Some students might be worried that the exam revision techniques they’re using are ineffective. If you struggle with exams and can’t seem to be able to retain information, it might be because you’re revising in unproductive ways. To secure the best grade possible, you need to be aware of these techniques, since grades can affect your future. So, what revision techniques don’t work? Read on to find out!

Reading the textbook

Whilst reading your course textbook can be a great starting point in understanding the information, it doesn’t always work well for retaining the information. You might think you’re being quite productive by reading the information, but this isn’t always the case. If you’ve already read something, your mind can start to wander, and it can be an inefficient process.

Applying this knowledge to exam questions or testing your memory can work much better and make you much more prepared for the exam. It can be easy to forget specific facts that you’ve scanned in reading, so actually testing yourself on how well you remember these facts can be more effective in noticing your weak areas.


Highlighting is a very common revision technique, with students picking out key phrases and making them stand out. Despite it being quite popular, research has shown highlighting to be largely inefficient. You’d want to memorise all your notes rather than just random words – highlighting could undermine the revision material as a whole.

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Studying with friends

Whilst this type of method might not be completely ineffective, it can certainly hinder the efficiency of revising. With friends, students are more likely to get distracted than focus on the task at hand. The presence of people you usually associate having fun with could stop you from concentrating on the all-important knowledge that you need to be ingraining inside your mind. Studying alone doesn’t provide distractions in this way, making it arguably more effective. You don’t have your friends by your side in the exam!

Copying notes

Note-taking whenever a teacher speaks is a passive technique. Whilst you could retain some information from copying things down, often, this type of method doesn’t ingrain the knowledge inside your head because your action is passive. Passive learning doesn’t help you fully immerse yourself in the understanding of a concept. This means that you may not be able to use these concepts properly in an exam. Simply reading material and copying it down on a piece of paper will not be enough to hit the higher grades. The application of concepts to real-life questions is an absolute necessity.

So, be aware that certain revision techniques are not as effective as others. By doing some of these techniques, you might even be wasting your time and could hinder your exam performance. Securing good grades is crucial for certain situations, whether this is to get a job or move on to higher study, so students should try to make sure that their revision techniques are actually working before it is too late!

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272

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