Top Revision Tips

Check out some essentials when it comes to revising and taking on written exams.


Music students may have attended all of their lectures, rehearsals, and classes but what comes next?

After the learning comes the exam period of the academic year where many need to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired. 

It's at this point that revision methods can help students focus, showcase their knowledge, technique and expertise.

Last minute cramming will play a role in this but there are plenty of other different revision methods to take on board to help students perform at their best during exam time. 

Assessments at ICMP

Assessment and feedback are an important part of the learning experience at ICMP with each module having at least one assessment component that can determine a grade for each module.

Assessments at ICMP can take a variety of different forms. They include presentations, portfolios, individual and group performances, recitals, projects, and case studies alongside written exams and essays. 

Find out more from our Programme Handbook


Here, we've put together some tips and advice on the best ways to succeed in written exams and essays...

Start early

Students looking to make the most of their exams should try and start revising as early as possible. 

Attending lectures, seminars and talks on key topics over the course of the academic year can be beneficial and help ease stress levels when exam season arrives.

If you have been diligent, turned up when requested and taken knowledge in since you started your course, then this should help you feel more confident when sitting your exams.

Put together a revision timetable 

Staying organised can go a long way in your revision time so create a plan and try to stick to it. Work out when your exams are taking place, then put together a timetable to ensure you get the most out of time revising in the lead up. 

Striking a balance in the way you revise can be beneficial too.

Revising a little but often - so splitting your revision sessions into hour-long slots across a number of days rather than lengthy, concentrated sessions - can be more effective in helping you retain information and feel prepared."

Prioritise any topics or areas of knowledge you feel need work, try to cover a variety of topics and always remember to factor in regular breaks to help you stay motivated. 

Look through past papers

One tried and tested revision technique is to work through past exam papers. You should be able to obtain these from lecturers or university library.

Reading through them can give you an insight into the types of questions that are likely to come up and enable you to develop a strategy on how best to prepare. 

By going through them in timed conditions, you can practice writing essays and answering questions to give yourself the experience of what the exam could feel like. 

Explore different revision methods to find what works for you

Research shows that a range of activities will benefit you when preparing for an exam. Try different methods to see what is best for you when going through what you have learned. Some methods include: 

Skeleton notes: these are sets of notes from lectures with keywords or phrases. Students are expected to complete the detail themselves to help structure their learning. 

Mind maps: a mind map is a diagram to help students visually organise information from their classes. You can use different images, colours and shapes to connect different themes and topics. 

Audio notes: listening to what you've learned and noted down can be an effective way of taking in information. It also means you can listen and learn while travelling rather than being desk bound. 

Set up study groups

Study groups involve students getting together with their peers to revise and can be a great way of talking through any topics or themes you may be unsure of.

Discussing ideas and concepts can also be useful when it comes to remembering different pieces of information.

If you are finding it hard to get motivated, then forming a study group can help you adhere to a structure and be more accountable for learning, particularly if you are assigned a certain topic by the group."

Begin at the start of the working day and take regular breaks

A lie-in may be tempting, but facts are at their most digestible when you are feeling fresh and motivated. By starting your day at 9am you can get more revision done early to hopefully leave you feeling positive about what you've achieved.

Consider what works best for you in terms of retaining information. If you feel information is not going in, then give yourself some time away from your desk or books.

Attend any revision or refresher classes if offered

Revision classes can be a really great way of refreshing your knowledge and asking questions about any topics you are unsure about.

These should give you the chance to not only speak with your tutors but participate in group discussion with your peers too.

Share your knowledge with others

This can be a benefit of the study group or refresher classes. Having to explain what you have learned to someone else can help you get to grips with a topic and stay on top of any areas you might struggle with.

If you cannot go through an area of a subject with a peer, then this could be a sign you need to refresh your knowledge."

Get organised the night before an exam 

As the day of the exam gets closer,  you can still take steps to help you improve your performance on the day itself. If you get organised the night before, then this can help you make the most of the opportunity. For example, make sure you know where and when the exam is, the best way to get there on time so you can avoid any last-minute fears about being late.

Also take note of what you need to bring with you - perhaps any pens or paper, revision notes, study prompts, or text books to help you undertake some final learning. A good night's sleep before the exam can also be as beneficial as the latest revision tips 

It's also worth planning to reward yourself once the exam is over - whether it has gone well or otherwise.

Try to stay calm and focused

One of the most important considerations during the revision period is stay motivated and positive. Of course, exams are important but try to avoid this becoming overwhelming.

Consider what you have achieved so far, give yourself achievable targets and stick to your plan. If you can work out how you revise effectively and the processes that are best for you, then this should give you the confidence to take the exam. 

Good luck!

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
July 10, 2024
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