Ways to Study to Achieve Top Grades

Hi gorgeous reader,

The way you revise can be the make-or-break of your final grade. Different methods work for different people, so it is important to find the method that works best for you in order to make the most out of your revision. Below, I’ve summarised 5 ways of studying that will help you, no matter what subject you’re revising for! Some of these might methods work for you and others might not be right for you, but the important thing is to be flexible and give every method a go until you find your niche.

1. Condensing textbook notes

This technique is particularly useful for science subjects when it comes to learning basic principles and definitions. This also lends itself to a lot of personalisation, so you can choose to make your notes as minimalistic or artistic as you like, adding an aspect of enjoyment to your revision.
However, it is important that when using this, you are actively reading your textbook and only writing the essential knowledge in your own words, otherwise you will be mindlessly copying out notes, feigning productivity when you are actually not retaining information – nobody wants this!

Textbook notes for Biology

2. Mindmaps/Posters

Mindmaps are the marmite of the studyblog world: some people hate them, others love them. Personally I can’t use them as effectively as other methods, but for some people these work really well.
These are particularly good for making links across a subject, so work well in essay subjects and encourage you to be actively thinking about what you’re writig. Plus, both mindmaps and posters are very versatile as you can present them in whatever way suits you best. However, the advantage they have over most other methods is that you can stick them around the house. I highly recommend that you do this. Whether you stick one up in your bathroom and review it every time you brush your teeth, or on your fridge so you see it everytime you get a drink, going over the information little and often will help you learn it.

3. Flashcards

Flashcards are really good at helping you learn vocabulary, definitions and processes. They are fairly minimal and don’t take up extra time making them as personal and pretty and textbook notes do, so are convenient for quickly refreshing knowledge.
On the other hand, flashcards do not prepare you for real exam questions and it’s easy to lie to yourself pretending to know the answer when you’re cheating. Therefore I would recommend using flashcards in conjunction with practice questions.
Flashcards can be handmade on paper, or generated electronically using revision websites. Quizlet is probably the most notable, but if you are specifically learning languages, you can use Tinycards who work with Duolingo. Both apps are free and accessible where ever you are, making them great for out-and-about revision.

AS Biology flashcards on Quizlet

4. Past Papers

Easily the most effective revision method, – and it’s easy to see why – anyone aiming for top grades should be doing past papers regularly, especially in the last few weeks before exams. The key to getting the most out of past papers is to do them multiple times: once, then again a day or two after, then again after week later. This infinitely benefits you, from solidating your knowledge to building excellent exam technique to reach those top grades, especially if you do the tests under exam conditions. Repeating the same questions gets the knowledge into your head and helps you understand what the examiner wants you to write in your exams.

AS Biology practice paper

5. Teach Someone Else

This is a good method to revise your knowledge, because you need to convey the topics in a simple and informative way to someone else so they understand it; it also forces you to word it in a way that will be similar to your exam answers. Encourage your ‘pupil’ to ask questions to really make you think. If there’s nobody around to teach, teaching your pet or a mirror as you will still be doing the essential work of putting your knowledge into words!

All these methods are useful for learning and employing subject knowledge, however in the run up to exams, you should definitely be doing past papers as these will best prepare you for exam day. Let me know in the comments which techniques work best for you!


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

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