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Top 6 revision techniques

With the SQA exam diet approaching, revision time is becoming precious – there’s not a minute to waste! But do not fret, as we have listed our top 6 revision techniques to help students get the most out of each study session.

Refer to past papers

Using past exam papers to study is our top revision recommendation. Thanks to the SQA, previous exam papers are available online, allowing students to practice exam questions and become familiar with the exam structure and assessment standards.

Students may begin to notice patterns in questions, such as similar styles of questions that are worded differently. Practising them will also give students an idea of how long it takes to complete a paper.

Moreover, marking schemes are also available with past papers. Students can use these to work out where they went wrong and understand what sort of answers are expected. Also spend time on the SQA understanding standards website as this invaluable resource give marker commentary on all externally assessed items in your courses.

Past papers for all subjects can be found on the SQA website.

Study out loud

Did you know that saying something out loud is an effective way to remember key information?

A study by the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found that speaking something aloud leads to better encoding of the information in your memory. This was discovered upon comparing the effects of silently reading, hearing somebody else read aloud, hearing a recording of one’s self reading aloud, and actual reading aloud in real time as one learns. It’s known as the ‘Production Effect’.

Why not try it and compare your own results?

Use colour

Using colour to study is one of the easiest, yet most effective revision techniques.

Why? It’s been proven that colours impact our mood in different ways. So using certain colours to study might actually improve productivity.

In addition, the University of British Columbia found that certain colours can help with concentration, attention span and hence facilitate memory retention and learning. The study highlights that red and blue colors are the best for enhancing cognitive skills and improving brain function.

Colours can easily be incorporated into mind maps and diagrams, making them more engaging to look at too.

Keep your notes organized

Organisation is key to a productive study session. Study notes can be kept organised by:

Rewriting: Note taking in class can become messy and unclear, so it’s a good idea to neatly rewrite and organise notes into a different notebook.

Folders: Having a folder for studying is a no brainer. It’s really the only thing that is going to keep your notes together and in chronological order.

Keeping what’s necessary: Clutter and unnecessary sheets of paper build up quickly in folders, so be sure to keep only what’s needed.

Use labels: Keeping labels at the top or side of pages allows you to be able to index and find pages quickly.

Test yourself

Reading and notetaking is a big part of studying and learning, but you’ll need to know if you’re truly learning what you are reading. One way to find out is by testing yourself.

Follow the ‘read, cover, remember and tell’ steps to test yourself.

Read only as much as your hand can cover

Cover what you just read with your hand

Remember What you’ve just read

Retell what you read in your head or to a partner

Other ways to test yourself can be through flash cards or writing down questions you keep forgetting and answer them until you fully remember.

Develop a disciplined routine

The only way to really immerse yourself in revision is by developing a routine.

Research suggests that the key to success is having a daily routine. A daily routine helps students build good habits, provides structure and increases efficiency.

Stick to a routine for at least a week and it will come naturally in no time.

Finally, stay disciplined and make sure you avoid distractions. A recent case study of young people in UK Schools identified one major item that causes major damage to effective study time. Can you think what this item is? That’s right, your mobile phone. Keep it in another room and if you desperately need to check it allow yourself five minutes each hour then get back to work!

Saturday School Ltd offers completely free advice to all parents and students on study revision, as well as course choices and levels.

Do not hesitate to get in contact with us if you would like further information on our services. You can call us on 0141 846 0219 or email us on

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