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  • Zain Asif

How to Make the Perfect Revision Schedule for Exams 📅

This is the revision schedule that transformed my mindset towards exam revision and keeps me perfectly up to date with my studying, projects, and life.

I'm someone who loves to plan my days and have control over all aspects of them. But, in this productive state, I become very optimistic about the time I have. I create an incredibly detailed plan and stick it on my wall. Suddenly a week passes by and I realise I can't keep up with it. So it gets stuffed in the drawer with utmost remorse and the plan is forgotten.

A rigid schedule has a core problem: It doesn't take into account the lazy, procrastinating and unmotivated version of yourself that shows up when work needs to be done.

Making fancy notion flowcharts was super inspiring but on my lazy days I'd fall behind and it all went downhill. So I made a customised system that accounted for my future lazy self that surprisingly worked during my ENTIRE exam season. Follow these steps and tips to customise it for your IB subjects!

Upfront Summary

Step 1: Scoping Your Subject
  • Tip #1 Identify your weaknesses.

  • Tip #2 Arm yourself with all exam knowledge.

Step 2: Planning your Revision Dates
  • Tip #3 Take spaced repetition seriously

  • Tip #4 Add a two-week buffer.

Step 3: Implement the Plan (The Trick)
  • Tip #5: The trick is that I only used these dates as a very broad guideline.

  • Tip #6: Spaced repetition of topics is very realistic and doable.

Step 1: Scoping Your Subject

I know this is the first step in all my revision guides but it is crucial when planning your work too! Create a table, list all the main broad units of your subject in one column and all the key sub-topics of each unit in the other. I would strongly recommend reviewing your subject's syllabus outline and using it to make sure you list all topics and sub-topics you need to study for the exams.

In university, a module/class wasn't as dense as an IB subject is so I listed everything on this single table. It is your choice whether you want different tables for each subject or all of it stuffed into one.

Tip #1: Identify your weaknesses

Go through every sub-topic in each unit whilst listing them out in the table above and highlight them red, orange or green based on your level of understanding. By identifying your weaknesses in this step, you will be better prepared to plan and divide your revision time up.

Tip #2: Arm yourself with all exam knowledge

The format, amount of content and the weightage of these exams are all important factors to consider when it comes to creating a schedule. It will allow you to understand which subjects and topics need more or less revision.

Step 2: Planning your Revision Dates

Let's organise the actual schedule now. Divide up the revision sessions for each topic into the days you have available until your exam. Personally, I prefer doing 5 short revision sessions a week during exam season so I can give my other time to projects and a balanced life.

But for you, this time will be divided amongst 6 full subjects. So create your plan whilst taking your identified weaknesses and strengths into account. Allocate revision time based on the required effort and the weightage of the exam in the final result. Think about your time realistically during the evenings, weekends, and spring break too.

Don't stress too much about adding in the perfect dates for your studying because they are only being used as a general guide (step 3).

Tip #3: Take spaced repetition seriously

When I planned my revision, I'd try to add in 3-4 repetitions for a topic over the several weeks of revision time. Spacing your revision out in timed intervals is vital for learning and long-term retention. By letting ourselves forget what we've learnt, we force our brain to work harder to recall the knowledge.

Tip #4: Add a two-week buffer period.

Act like the last two weeks before your exam don't exist and plan your revision that way. "Work expands to fill the time you give it". I decided to actually apply the famous Parkinson's law and actually give myself less time to do all the revision.

Planning your revision in less time than you actually have forces you to become more efficient and creates a sense of urgency. Instilling this buffer period allowed me to work on weaker topics even more and helped make up for full topics I never got to revise. Make it one week if you have less time.

Step 3: Implement the Plan (The Trick)

Tip #5: The trick is that I only used these dates as a very broad guideline.

I am not rigid with these planned dates. Usually, I planned to have 4-5 short revision sessions a week. But, for example, if I felt too lazy on Monday then I'd just carry forward my revision to my next session on Wednesday. Conversely, if I felt inspired on the weekend then I'd simply use it do ALL of the revision planned for that week.

By actively telling myself that I don't need to stick to the dates, I genuinely felt no guilt for getting busy and not studying one day. I can simply catch up during my next revision session. Yes, it requires discipline to catch up but which revision schedule doesn't? I know if I roughly follow the dates I will be done with all revision a full two weeks before the exam!

Tip #6: Spaced repetition of topics is realistic and doable.

The amount of time between your revision sessions does not need to be strict. Your results will not be affected if you revisit a topic after 2 days or after 3 weeks. That is the beauty of spaced repetition.

Studying in timed intervals is an extremely effective study technique that I always found challenging. But by following this flexible method, I was able to active recall and study for each topic for a subject 3-4 times! You can simply pile up all the studying of the week on a certain day or spread it out to the next week without feeling an ounce of guilt. I didn't need to perfectly follow the planned schedule to practise spaced repetition.

Conclusion: Optimise for your future lazy and unmotivated self.

By giving yourself a little flexibility in your week, you avoid procrastination and make things as easy as possible for your future lazy and unmotivated self.

But all in all, the best revision schedule for you is the one you find easiest to follow. This revision schedule may not be suitable for you, it's just something I accidentally came upon and it worked.


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