Revising for Resits

Advice and guidance on preparing for your resit exams.

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Revising for Resits: The Basics 

This page has been designed to support you as you prepare to retake an exam. While this can be a frustrating and disappointing time, it’s important that you stay calm and take some time to prepare yourself as best you can. You now know what to expect from the process and there are several steps that you can take to secure your success the second time around! 

In addition to working through the steps outlined below, it’s a good idea to build, or maintain, healthy habits that will help you to succeed. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, ensuring that you have a quiet place to work, and building in time to relax. If you are tired, stressed out and overwhelmed, you won’t be able to retain the information that you need to pass your exams. 


Managing your Time

SSID can offer advice on the practicalities of retaking an exam or repeating an assessment. Once you have received the details of your new exam(s), it’s important to draw up a realistic revision timetable. Work backwards from the date of your exam, identifying revision periods and building in time for anything unexpected that might crop up!

It can be helpful to display this timetable at your workstation to monitor your revision progress and maintain an overview of the remaining time. To help you with this, Calendarpedia provides calendar templates that can be downloaded in a range of different formats and styles. 

During your scheduled revision periods, it’s important to remember that the average attention span is less than 20 minutes, so studying little and often is usually the most effective approach.

The Pomodoro technique is one time management strategy that might be especially helpful during this condensed period. Breaking your work into 25-minute bursts of focused study, this strategy encourages you to maximise your concentration levels by planning in regular breaks to take some time away from your screen and rest your mind.

301 Recommends: The Pomodoro Technique  

This short video talks you through the Pomodoro Technique and how you can use it to structure your study periods.


Adapting your Approach

As part of your preparation, consider mixing up the way in which you approach your revision. If you relied solely on reading and re-reading your notes last time, why not try bringing in other revision methods such as flashcards and mindmaps?

Using a variety of strategies is a useful way of maintaining your motivation throughout the course of your revision, as well as encouraging you to think about the information in new and interesting ways. 

When preparing to resit your exam, it’s worth remembering that resit marks are capped, meaning that your grade cannot exceed a certain number. This is usually a mark of 40 or 50 depending on your level of study. While this can be frustrating, it means that your focus now should be on passing the exam rather than achieving a particular grade.

It’s not possible to revise a module in its entirety, so take some time to consider which topics are important and appear regularly. Past papers are a great resource to help you identify these relevant and recurrent topics, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the resit exam will not be the same one you took the first time!

301 Recommends: Take the VARK questionnaire 

This online questionnaire will help you to identify your learning preferences, giving you some ideas for the different strategies that you can use as part of your revision.


Honing your Exam Technique 

You can also adapt your approach to account for the type of exam that you are taking. Short-answer questions, for example, usually focus on description and examples, rather than creative or analytical responses. As such, you might find it helpful to draw mind maps to identify common themes across your notes, create flashcards or quick-fire lists to practice defining key concepts, or use flow diagrams to track process stages and talk through them. 

During this period, it can also be helpful to take some time to speak to your lecturer and reflect on what might have gone wrong last time. This will help you to direct your efforts in the right place during your revision. For example, if your performance was impacted by running out of time, you might want to use the questions from past papers to practise completing the essay-based exam planner. This will help you to get into the habit of organising your thoughts when you open the question paper.


Seeking out Support 

Just because you’re no longer having lectures, doesn’t mean that support is not available to you during this time. As well as having a conversation with your tutor about what might not have worked so well, you’ll also still have access to lots of resources both online and in-person. This includes being able to visit library sites, download your course content from Blackboard and access mental health support.

The services available through the Student Wellbeing Service and Student Mental Health, Counselling and Therapies Service are all free and can help you if feelings of stress and discomfort are hindering your success. SSID have also created a page on Exam Worries where you can access information on securing support adjustments, reporting extenuating circumstances and managing exam anxiety.


Preparing for Next Time

If you are returning to university next semester, the period after you resit your exam can be a great time to familiarise yourself with the resources available to document and develop your skills.

You can use the University’s Feedback Portal to record and reflect on any academic feedback you receive, while the mySkills resource from the Careers Service can be used to keep a record of your broader skills development through extracurricular activities. Returning to your feedback will help you to identify gaps in your learning so that you can feel fully prepared the next time you sit an exam!  


Tips and resources

  • Think positively: you now know what to expect when taking an exam and you can use this information to your advantage! 
  • Take care of your mind and body. This means building periods of time into your revision schedule where you can go out with friends or do something that you enjoy without feeling guilty. 
  • Talk to those around you. Your tutors and peers are on your side! 
  • Visit SSID’s Exam information pages for any queries about the timetabling or locations of your assessments.
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