Exam RevisionHow to Create a Revision Timetable 2019

How to Create a GCSE Revision Timetable

Successful revision is about being organised. Here's how to create a revision timetable to help you stay on track.

Do you feel like you’re drowning under a sea of subjects? You’ve got your Drama and your Digital Tech. Your Geography and your German. Your History and your Home Ec. Your Mandarin and your Maths.

Where the heck do you start? Deep breaths. You’re not alone. Exam time is stressful for everyone. And when you stare at a mountain of books, worksheets and notes, it can feel like you'll never reach the summit.

Successful revision is about being organised. Cramming your facts and figures the night before the exam rarely works - because it'll stress you out and you won't get any sleep. And a tired brain is as reluctant as a tired body.

But fear not. We're here to help. We'll show you how to create the ultimate GCSE revision timetable; helping relieve the pressure, organise the mess, and to even put a little bit of fun back into your life.

Work vs. Life

The first thing to remember is that all work and no play is never a good thing.

Even when deadlines feel like they’re looming,

Stop. Relax.

If work is removing your fun time.

Then get out and enjoy the sun.

Work is important, of course,

But balance is what we endorse.

Make time for revision,

but make a decision

about how to reward your hard work.

It’s as important to ensure that your GCSE revision timetable has slots for a bit of leisure time as it is to organise and prioritise your revision subjects. Time is ticking, of course. But that doesn’t mean you should torture yourself for the next six weeks running up to the exams. So, plan some leisure time among the work schedule.

What type of leisure time should I plan?

Everyone's idea of leisure is different, of course. But, if you're staring at a book while you revise, then take yourself out the room for a while and do something that relies on another sense.

  • Phone a friend.
  • Chat to your parents.
  • Sit in the open air and listen to some music.
  • Do something that's calming, rather than over-stimulating.
  • A bit of yoga, perhaps?

A balance between work and leisure time is essential.

The Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro Method is a handy way of planning your work time with your break times. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute period of study, with a 5-minute break. That's one Pomodoro.  It's all about focused work for 25-minutes, then relaxation for 5-minutes.

After you've completed the fourth Pomodoro, you give yourself an extended break. Maybe 20-minutes. It's an excellent way to keep focused - because no-one can focus continually. These videos can help you work alongside a Pomodoro timer. Some of them even let you study with a virtual buddy.  

The Prospective Method vs The Retrospective Method

There are two ways of dividing up your revision schedule.

The Prospective Method

This is the standard approach, and it's all about planning your subjects over time. If, for example, you have six weeks to revise, your revision timetable might look like this:

You fill it with school time, and your outside activities, with slots put aside for revision. Like this:

Everything's colour-coded here - so you can tell at a glance when you're at school and when you can look forward to those all-essential leisure activities. And giving each subject its own colour helps to organise a clear spread of revision activity throughout the week.

There are lots of free templates online so that you can create your very own revision timetable. So, get organising your time to success. If you share your completed timetable with your friends and family, you're more likely to stick to it.

Top tips for The Prospective Method:

Identify the subjects that you find harder:

  • Place those at the start of each revision session. That way your brain is most active and you have the easier subjects to look forward to.
  • You might find that adding a couple of extra revision slots per week for difficult subjects really helps.

Mix things up a little:

  • Create flash-cards, quizzes, tests, and do past papers.
  • Some fun activities on Quizlet will help lift your revision off the page; testing your knowledge while you play online games.

Split each subject into separate topics:

  • For example, for Maths, you might need to revise Fractions, Decimals, Laws of Indices, Standard Form, Financial Mathematics, Algebraic expressions.
  • Identify the areas you're most concerned about - and revise those first.
  • Get a friend to help - explain things to each other. Test each other.

Don’t panic if you miss a session:

  • Just pick up from where you left off, and go back to any topics that you might have missed.

The Retrospective Method

The Prospective Method is the traditional approach to putting together your GCSE revision timetable. But there are other ways. Ways that might work better for you. Prospective means “looking forward”, while Retrospective means “looking back”.

The Retrospective Method doesn't start with a timeline. It begins with a list.

You look at what you need to know for each subject, breaking it up into topics (in the way we described before). You prioritise each topic with a traffic-light system. If you’re revising for Maths, you have your list:




Laws of Indices

Standard Form

Financial Mathematics

Algebraic expressions

Those are the topics that will show up on the exam paper. Consider how you feel about each of those topics. Perhaps you’re fine with Fractions, Standard Form, and Financial Maths. You highlight those in green. Like this:

But, you HATE algebra and decimals. You highlight those in red. Like this:

You're OK with Law of Indices. You know you need to study them, but you're pretty much on track. Highlight those topics in amber.

So, you now have a clear indication of the subjects that need the most work (the ones in red). So you work on those first. And you mark off the date alongside it. Like this:

Then you focus on your ambers. Like this:

And you can probably do all of the greens in one go. Like this:

Then you’ve finished your first cycle. Consider where you're up to. And colour-code the dates, in line with how you feel about each topic. Like this:

So, this shows that Laws of Indices have gone from amber to green. After revising, you decided that - actually - you’re OK with it. But Financial Maths, which you thought was a green turned out to have a lot more to it than you expected. And you feel that you need more time on that. It goes from green to amber. Algebraic expressions weren't quite as hard as you thought, so that drops from red to amber. And Decimals are still really challenging: so it stays red.

Measuring your progress

This is a great way to measure your progress and to identify what you need to look at next. You can build your timetable for the following sessions. Like this:

You can see what needs the most focus as you progress. And by the day of the exam, hopefully, everything's green - or, at least green and amber.

Mash It Up

Of course, you're going to have several subjects to revise, so make sure that you focus on each one. You can traffic light each subject in the same way, so that you can see which subjects need the most time.  

For many of us, a combination between the Prospective and Retrospective approaches can work. The Prospective for assigning time to study, and the Retrospective for recognising how to use that time.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Avoid cramming everything in at the last minute. And remember to have some fun. That way your GCSE revision timetable will guide you towards a less stressful, and more confident exam season. Good luck!