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Advice on revising and studying in challenging times

01 Apr 2020

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Many of you will have already begun revision or are working on your final assignments and you should continue with your preparation and work as planned. Taking exams and completing assignments will allow you to receive the credit for your learning and hard work this year but we obviously understand and appreciate the challenging times you are going through. To help you revise and study, we have produced some advice and tips.

Firstly, remember you are not alone in this.  As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, students at most universities around the world are experiencing similar changes at short notice and the University is working with our networks to ensure you will not be disadvantaged. We are also working with the relevant professional bodies to make sure that the assessment alternatives we offer meet their standards and requirements. If you have any questions, please speak to your lecturer or head of school.

1. Keep revising and studying

It’s important to cling on to normality. In moments like this, our regular routines have been interrupted. For some people, that’s fine, but generally, routine holds the day together. Revision and studying are a step towards normality that you probably need right now, so don’t put them off.

Create a study or revision timetable and try to stick to it. Start with a topic that you find most interesting but don’t spend all day on the one topic. And remember to have breaks and rest. You don’t need to revise and study every day. Plan in some rest days but don’t turn every day into a rest day or you’ll never get anything done.  We have produced a revision advice calendar to help you plan.

2. Discuss ideas and keep talking

The most important thing to do right now is to keep talking. We need to keep communicating with each other to make sure that we’re all OK and that goes for revising and studying too. Use Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp or other chat platforms to keep in touch with other students in your class or set up study groups to discuss ideas, swap study tips or analyse pieces of work together.

Remember though, people do things in different ways and that goes for revising and studying too. Don’t think someone else’s techniques are better than yours. Discuss ideas but do whatever works for you.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As we’ve already mentioned, speak to your lecturer or head of school if you have any questions, are not sure about something or if you need advice. They may not be able to provide an instant response but drop them an email and they will reply as soon as they can.

If you are struggling with your revision and mental health, you can also contact the Student Wellbeing Service by using the self-referral form or emailing the team at

4. Look after yourself

While revising, it can be easy to end up surviving off excessive amounts of coffee and junk food. You may feel like doing this instead of spending time cooking proper meals. It may be quicker, but it is not necessarily more productive. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will leave you feeling more energetic and focused.

If you can, get out and get some fresh air or open a window. Try to use your once a day exercise opportunity but remember, it’s for one hour at the most and always try to maintain the social distancing guidance of two metres apart.

It’s also important to stay on top of your sleep. Getting to sleep at a reasonable time means you will wake up earlier and be able to fit in more revision during the daytime. If you are struggling with your sleep, think about:

  • Routine – a bedtime routine is key. Try to set time aside to wind down and be in bed at a time that is achievable. That goes for the morning too. Get up when the alarm goes off.
  • Blue light – avoid using tablets/phones/laptops/televisions at least half an hour before bed as the blue light in screens can suppress the body's release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep.
  • Night-time thinking – people can tend to struggle to get to sleep if they overthink at night or think of all the ‘things to do’ the next day. It can be useful to write down your thoughts before bed. If they are worries you can’t control, physically throw them away. If they are thoughts about things that need to be done – you have your to do list for tomorrow, so leave that responsibility for the next day.
  • Tossing and turning – when people struggle to sleep, they can often toss and turn for long periods of time. The brain is then making a connection between your bed and staying awake. If you have not fallen asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing for 10 minutes before trying again. Keep doing this until you fall sleep, to help make an association between your bed and sleep.
  • Alcohol – people may believe that when they have drunk alcohol, they sleep better but it has been found that alcohol prevents the REM cycle, so the quality of sleep is not good. Cutting down on alcohol can therefore improve sleep.
  • Bedroom – our environment can have a large impact on sleep so it may be worth looking at your bedroom and your bed to see if there is anything that can change - what are your pillows like? Is it dark enough? Are you warm enough?

The Sleep Council is also a good source of advice.


5. Stay calm and positive

Perhaps the most important thing to remember throughout this whole process is to stay calm and positive. If you have a bad day, try to not let it affect how you revise or study the next day. Remember, performing well in exams is not the be all and end all of your university experience, and whilst they are important, they are not worth getting really stressed about.

There is no perfect formula for exam success, and you may not find all these tips to be right for you. The key is to work out how you revise most effectively and stick to that as best you can. Ultimately, when it comes to revision and studying, you get out of it what you put in.

If you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing during this challenging time, look at our advice page for the help and support that is available from the University and nationally. We have everything from weekly mindfulness sessions to advice from lecturers to support websites, apps and more.

Finally, remember to reward yourself

Whether it’s finishing your last exam or completing your final assignment or dissertation, don’t forget to reward yourself for all your hard work. Yes, you may have to stay at home, but you deserve a celebration and you can still do that with your family or through video calls or group chats with your friends.