How to revise for your GCSEs

Would you like to know how to revise for your GCSEs? You may think you have a mountain to climb, but with the right strategies, revising can be manageable and even enjoyable.

How to revise for your GCSEs – top tips

  1. Eat a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet improves your concentration and memory. Healthy eating can also reduce stress and anxiety and boost your energy levels and immune system.

Foods like blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, eggs, oily fish, nuts and wholegrains are particularly beneficial to brain function and mental health.

Although it’s tempting, avoid sugary, processed foods when you’re revising. These foods give you a short-term lift, but your energy levels will crash quickly lowering your mood and motivation.

2. Keep hydrated

Aim to drink 6-8 cups of fluid a day.

Drinking enough can help improve concentration and focus, making your revision more productive. Staying hydrated reduces fatigue and headaches and keeps your energy levels up.

This doesn’t mean you need to stick to drinking water. Herbal teas, diluted fruit juices and other non-alcoholic drinks also count. Try to steer away from sugary drinks, however (see above).

3. Aim to get plenty of sleep

Getting plenty of sleep (around 8 hours a night) is important for academic success. When you’re well rested you are better able to concentrate and focus on your revision.

Sleep is vital for memory consolidation and reducing stress so you keep a positive mindset. It’s also vital for your physical health – you don’t want to become ill during exam season if you can help it!

Having said all this, don’t obsess about sleep. Worrying about getting enough sleep is counterproductive. Just do what you can to help your body wind down at bedtime.

Try to go to bed and get up around the same time each day, avoid caffeine and screen time before bed and create a relaxing bedtime routine.

4. Start revising early

It’s best to start revising a few months before your exams. Last minute cramming can be stressful and less effective. It’s better to have a consistent, sustained approach to revision over time.

Starting early means you can manage your time better. When you identify areas you find challenging, you have time to seek help and practice. You also have time to reinforce your knowledge and understanding so you can approach exams with confidence.

5. Draw up a revision timetable

Be realistic with your revision timetable. Make sure it’s flexible so that if you need more time to revise a particular topic, you can.

It’s very important to leave time for breaks and relaxation. Most people can only concentrate for 20 minutes, so aim to take a 5–10-minute break every 20 minutes.

Regularly review your progress and change your revision timetable as needed. This will help you stay on track and ensure you cover everything in time for your exams.

6. Set mini goals

Setting mini goals in your revision timetable helps you stay motivated.

Mini goals should be specific. For example, ‘revise pages 5-10 of the history textbook’ is more specific than ‘revise history’.

Be realistic with your goals. Setting huge, unrealistic goals can be demotivating and make you feel like you’re falling behind.

Most importantly, celebrate your achievements so you stay motivated and build momentum!

7. Use different revision techniques

There are four different learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic, read-write and visual. Most people use a mixture of learning styles to help them retain knowledge.

Employing different learning techniques can reinforce your understanding and keep you motivated. Here are some examples of techniques you can use:

  • Auditory. Record yourself reading your notes and textbook. Listen to the recording while you’re doing other activities like walking or exercising. You can also listen to podcasts of revision material.
  • Kinesthetic. You might use manipulatives like blocks or models to revise concepts. You might cut out notes and glue them into a different order, act out scenarios related to topics, or draw or make models.
  • Reading and writing:
    • Read notes or textbooks and summarize the material in your own words.
    • Write yourself questions about your revision material and then answer them without looking. Try to answer questions in a different order each time.
  • Visual. Use diagrams, mind maps or flashcards to help you visualize material. You can also watch videos or use infographics to help you understand complex topics.

Experiment with different learning techniques to find what works best for you!

8. Read notes at bedtime

Reading your notes just before you go to sleep (or listening to a recording of revision material) is very effective.

When you review your notes before bed your brain has time to process and consolidate the information while you sleep. This means you’re more likely to retain the information.

Taking a few minutes to review your notes before bed can also help you feel more confident about your exams, which means a better night’s sleep.

9. Practice past papers

Although questions in past exam papers are unlikely to come up again, it’s still worth taking some time to practice past papers.

Practising past papers helps you become familiar with the format and the types of questions you will be asked. Plus, it can help you with time management.

When practising past papers it’s a good idea to simulate exam conditions. Set aside a block of time, use a timer, and try to answer as many questions as possible.

Once you’ve completed the paper, review your answers and identify areas where you need to improve.

Would you like support with your revision?

We hope you’ve found our tips on how to revise for your GCSEs helpful.

If you need further guidance, our experienced tutors are here to help. We can support you with topics you find challenging and help you to stay on track.

For more information, please email