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The 7 Stages of Revision

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So, you’re into exam season. You’ve attended your last lecture of the year and handed in your coursework: nothing left but to get down to some revision. We’ve all been through this, and I suspect for most of us the process is fairly similar – and not always as efficient as we’d like! Check how many of these seven stages you’ve already been through, and learn to recognize when it’s time to break the cycle…

1. Planning

You are so organized. You’ve got calendars, schedules, reminders. You’ve broken down each exam into sections and allocated time slots, with a color-coding system so complex even a professional hacker couldn’t crack it. #Totallygotthis #Bringiton

2. Productivity

So far, so good. You’re up bright and early, breakfasted and at your desk, following that revision plan to the dot. The post-it notes are flying thick and fast, and you’ve even had a few “eureka” moments. It’s all going surprisingly well, until…

3. Complacency

… Complacency sets in. After working so hard, surely you deserve a little break? Your friends probably haven’t even started yet. You’re so far ahead of the game. Watch out for this phase – it’s a dangerous one! #Winningnotwinning

4. Distraction

Ooh hello little social media notification… Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours YouTube video-hopping, or scrolling down your Facebook feed, or updating your Instagram account with photos of your stunningly designed revision calendar. Now is when you need to muster all your willpower to resist the call of social media; save it for planned breaks only. #Justsayno

5. Procrastination

Ok, so you’ve shut down the social media notifications, but before getting back to the revision you’d better just make a quick snack. And tidy up your room. Maybe put some laundry on. Those plants need watering. Best to file your nails in case they get caught on your keyboard… In fact, pretty much anything except actually revising seems like a good idea right now. Welcome to #procrastination.

6. Panic

Suddenly it’s evening, and you’re not quite sure what happened to the last five hours. This is when panic rears its head. You’re desperately trying to cram a whole day’s worth of revision into a few hours, but your brain is now so scrambled you can’t focus clearly. The more quickly you try to work, the less you actually take in. #Ownworstenemy

7. Resignation

Finally, that period of calm arrives. You’ve done as much as you can, given it your best shot, and now all you can do is try to get a good rest… before starting all over again tomorrow! #Tomorrowisanewday

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Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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