Teenage Revision Habits

Andrew Buck is a lead practitioner of Design at Hastingsbury College Bedford and the inventor of the student exams app ‘Exam Pal’. He talks about his current perception of teenage revision methods and the use of digital technology against traditional methods of revision.

As a teacher of 20 years and the inventor of the smartphone app ‘Exam Pal’ I am constantly reminded of the importance of quality revision methods not only for my own students but also for our own app content.

As a company that scows the social media system hourly for potential customers a clear pattern is beginning to emerge.

Revision Habits

So what are the revision habits of your average teenager?

Students will turn to Twitter to state to the world that they have started revising or to vent their frustration at having to start revision. This is usually followed by another tweet of disgust having just received their exam timetable. Sharing their exam woes with others is a must. Through Instagram we see snippets of how students are revising. Many will be armed with the revision essentials such as numerous revision guides, highlighters and postcards. Many will be very pleased of their revision set up in their bedroom and proudly post a picture. Some will surround themselves with items of comfort for those long days ahead such as sweets, chocolate and a recent hot drink brought up by the parents.

Traditional methods are still the best and by far the most popular. Analytical note taking by working through their exercise book or revision guide onto a fresh A4 pad seems to be the order of the day. Flash cards in their hundreds beautifully presented and brandished with highlighters. Post-it notes in every wall space conceivable including the fridge and back of the bathroom door creating a skyline of yellow. The common use of a revision buddy seems to add company even though at times that maybe the loyal family pet.

All seems pretty normal, however there are a few trends that for us educational practitioners we may find slightly concerning. Procrastination is a common hashtagged(#) word. The boredom selfie, the revision pain selfie, the sleeping selfie, getting started for some is a huge battle to overcome. When to start and where to start can often be a problem especially when students can be sitting up to 23 exams this summer.

Distractions of any kind are a relief from revision boredom. We very rarely see students studying without some kind of device in the background whether it’s a tablet with a movie, a music media player or games console. It appears that today’s teenagers cannot sit in silence and purely study for long periods, a detriment to the times. Last minute cramming before the exam, studying into the early hours of the morning, the appearance of endless energy drinks and poor diets. It does seem that many students are unprepared for the hours of revision ahead and have a lack of knowledge for best practice.

However there are many ingenious ways to revise that we have come across. Leaving a favourite sweet after each page or paragraph of revision often gives you motivation to complete. Revising in the bath with a wipe board to recall earlier revision is a common occurrence. Students revising on the go in their local café and revising in the car by using the multiple revision apps that are now widely available. The beautifully presented mind maps and flash cards that actually take longer than the revision itself, and of course the revision ‘onesie’. Telling your friends that you have locked your gadgets away in a safe or have deleted you social media apps will help progression. Posting a song or dance, without shame, to your revision notes and key terms you need to learn seems to be one of the strangest techniques we have come across. Recording revisions notes onto a media player and then listening to them whilst at the gym.

Maybe these revision habits have been going on for some time and maybe due to social media we are just more exposed to what is going on behind closed doors.

Here are the Top Twelve Do’s and Don’ts’s for revision to help you get started and avoid the dreaded pitfalls of #procrastination.


  1. Start revising 5-6 weeks before your first exam starts. Use the Exam Pal app to access and schedule your exam dates. Continue reading →

Want to leave university with a degree?

At some time of your university life, there will be the awful, looming sensation of a deadline creeping closer. Procrastination often comes in the form of unnecessary laundry runs, spring-cleaning in the summer and organising your CDs in alphabetical order: anything to get away from the deadline that is hovering on the horizon. In today’s world, there is a new danger, and it comes in the form of infamous white writing on a blue background: Facebook.

The social networking site is both mind- bogglingly genius and soul-crushingly addictive. It serves to connect you with your friends and family around the world for free, whilst leaving you constantly plugged in to the lives of people you don’t really know or care about. While I don’t make a habit of adding total strangers, I do have people on my Facebook I would pass by in the street, but on Facebook I can see their photos, wall posts, location updates and even phone numbers.

But the worst thing about it is that it is constantly there. It’s hard to switch off. It’s like a parallel universe co-existing with real life. And because of that, I sit glued to my Facebook page, waiting for a couple to break up or an equally lost soul to ‘like’ the status I posted six hours previously.

leave university with a degree

Whilst Facebook is excellent for stopping you from watching Loose Women on a lazy afternoon, it’s your worst enemy when you’re actually trying to do something productive, e.g. that important coursework that’s due in next week. The “quick look” always turns in to ten minutes worth of stalking. But worst thing is that it is no longer just on computers – it’s on our phones too. If there’s any activity on my page, my iPhone instantly sends me a notification. Resisting the urge to look is like trying not to sneeze: you’re inevitably going to snot everywhere and see what somebody has said about that drunken photo of you.

Everything that we do nowadays is linked with Facebook. If something interesting happens to us, we put it on Facebook. Our friends do the same and because of this, trying to do anything productive whilst being logged in is like trying to write a dissertation whilst sitting in a large room with all your friends talking over one another. It’s practically impossible.

Although Mark Zuckerberg’s monster is by far the biggest danger to my degree, it is not the only demon. Twitter is also to blame. It’s a bit like diet-Facebook – it doesn’t allow me to plunge into people’s photos and private lives as much, but it does bombard me with updates from musicians, journalists and celebrities. I find myself using Twitter as a break from Facebook, and that really is bad.

What’s more, it’s not even that easy to get off Facebook. It allows you to ‘deactivate’ your account without actually deleting it, meaning that all you have to do to get it back is log in with the same credentials.

So what’s the solution? My advice to you is to change your password to something long and unmemorable, write it down, seal it in an envelope and give it to a trustworthy friend to look after until your work is done. And be strong – the panic attacks will subside after a while.

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