How to create a revision timetable

Creating a revision timetable is one of the most important things you need to do as part of your revision preparation, that’s why we talk about it so many times on this website.

What is a revision timetable?

A revision timetable is an action plan outlining how you will approach your studies in preparation for your exams.

Why should I create a revision timetable?

Planning and setting goals is the most efficient way to work and prepare for your exams.

When done properly, a revision timetable ensures you make efficient use of the time you have available, studying the most appropriate topics at the right time.

It’s very easy to lose focus and track of your studies without a clear plan in place.

Preparation work for your revision timetable

There are lots of things you need to consider before you can create your revision timetable.

Work out your regular commitments

You will have other commitments that you need to take into account when planning your studies.

This may include:

  • A part time job
  • Walking the dog
  • Picking up siblings from school
  • Dance classes
  • Football training
  • …and many more

Being realistic about these commitments will help you accurately calculate how much revision time you actually have available each week.

So, make a list of all your ongoing commitments in advance of starting the timetable.

Decide when you work best

Most people find that mornings are a great time to study.

Starting work early can be very productive and it feels very satisfying to have completed your goals by tea time.

Getting your revision done early avoids having it hanging over you all day.  It also frees up your evenings to do what ever you want – a big reward.

However, we are all different.  You may well know already that you work much better in the afternoons and evenings.  Maybe you’re just not a morning person!

Factoring this into the revision timetable is important, otherwise you won’t stick to it for long.

Find out your exam dates

You need to know the dates and times of all your exams.

This ensures you don’t count a day of exams as potential revision time, and also helps you prioritise your studies around the order of the exams.

Rank your best and worst subjects and topics

There isn’t an infinite amount of revision time available.

When creating your revision timetable it is likely you are going to have to make some difficult decisions and prioritise how you spend your study time.

You need to decide (rank in order):

  • Which subjects you are most and least confident about
  • Which subjects matter to you the most
  • How confident you are about the topics within each subject

Your target grades and class assessments may help you prioritise too.

Have all this information available before creating the revision timetable.

How to structure a blank revision timetable

There is no set way to structure your revision timetable, however here are some good pointers.

Create a timetable that looks similar to a school week (e.g. days down the side, and times across the top).

Revision works best in small chunks, so split your day into lots of 30 minute revision sessions.

Add a 5 minute break in between each revision session.

Include a longer break for lunch, e.g. 50 minutes.

How to fill in the revision timetable

Now it’s time to complete your revision timetables.  There should be one for each week up to your final exam.

  • Based on when in the day you work best, indicate what will be your free time (e.g. usually evenings)
  • For each week, add your regular commitments
  • For each week, reserve sessions for exercise and the occasional reward session for working hard
  • Add in all of your exam dates and times
  • Calculate how many revision days are available leading up to each of your exams
  • Add subjects and topics to the available spaces on the timetable

Unfortunately only you can decide how to prioritise your subjects and topics to make the best use your available revision time.

The preparation work done earlier will help you do this.

You will need to consider the date of each exam, alongside how confident you said you feel about that subject and it’s content.

For a subject that has lots of content, or one that you feel less confident about, you may need to use several of your 30 minute revision slots every day (but not necessarily close together).

For subjects that you feel more confident about, you may decide to only allocate one slot for this every day.

Don’t forget, you will need to prioritise exams with the earliest dates, knowing you will have time afterwords to focus on other subjects with later exams.

Final tips for your revision timetable

  • Try a draft version of your timetable for a week, tweak any problems for the future weeks then stick to your revision plan
  • Be sure to mix up your day.  Don’t study the same subject and topic back to back all day long
  • Don’t work until exhaustion, make sure you take the planned breaks and reward time
  • Be realistic with your time and goals
  • Make sure you include periods of exercise, it will help to increase productivity and reduce stress and tiredness
  • Make use of short periods of wasted free time, e.g. what simple revision task could you be doing during that car journey?
  • Revise each day.  Some revision every day is more effective than a single full day of study
  • Don’t throw old timetables away, use them to keep track of your progress
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