Study habits for success

student revising for GCSE and A levels

Burying your head in books for hours on end isn’t always the best way to study and it can leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated – but it doesn’t have to be like that, so here are our top ten study habits for success.

  • Be organised and plan – set yourself a routine for studying. Whether it’s a few hours in the morning or afternoon on certain days or a couple of hours each day, having a timetable gets you into the habit of knuckling down.
  • Take breaks – the biggest mistake some students make is studying too hard. As contradictory as that sounds, there is such a thing as too much work and overloading on information can leave you in a muddle. Keep your mind fresh and take regular breaks even for just a few minutes.
  • Set clear goals – it doesn’t matter what the subject is, set yourself a clear goal for each session. Dividing subjects into bite sized pieces means you can be sure about covering subjects in a clear and logical fashion – increasing the chances of it staying in your memory.
  • Start with what you find hard – tackle tough topics first while your brain is still fresh and focussed. It’s tempting to start with something you find easy but you’re likely to be tired and easily distracted by the time it comes to starting a subject you’re not keen on.
  • Remove distractions – we all study in different ways, some of us like listening to music or the radio while others like complete silence. Regardless of the environment you study best in, make sure it’s distraction free – switch off phones or notifications on your laptop or computer to ensure you’re not tempted to dawdle.
  • Check your notes before you start – before you start, take the time to check your assignment or notes. Even if you’re confident that you know what you need to do, double checking doesn’t hurt and can save you time later on.
  • Review your work – doing the work isn’t quite the same as completing the task. Check your work as you go and review it at the end. Self-assessing flags up any mistakes you might not have spotted at the time and can also highlight areas you may need extra help with.
  • Use memory tools that work for you – from acronyms to making up limericks or songs, memorising information in a fun, catchy or unique way is a great way to retain facts and figures.
  • Have the right equipment – keep pens, sharpened pencils, a calculator or dictionary to hand to avoid disrupting your study session.
  • Ask for help – few people are brilliant at everything so never be afraid to ask for help. A study buddy or group can be a valuable source of support, even more so if you can share knowledge and pick up revision different techniques.

If you find a subject particularly tough and could benefit from a little extra help, contact us to see how we can help. With learning centres in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Stowmarket, and Thetford we offer tuition in a range of subjects either in small groups or in one to one sessions.

As experienced teachers, we understand that everyone learns, studies and revises differently and we use a variety of methods, teaching tools and techniques to ensure that all our students have the chance to reach their full potential.

How to Improve Your Memory for Studying

improve your memory for studying and exam revision

Whether you’re revising for exams or just want to improve what you remember in class, there are lots of ways to boost brainpower and maximise those memory banks, so here are our top ten tips:

1)  Get enough sleep – there’s a reason why parents and teachers go on about getting a good night’s sleep before an exam. Research shows that sleep helps us cement information – which is why some people swear by listening to audio revision notes just as they’re nodding off. Not only that, good sleep means you’re refreshed, alert and ready to focus on the day ahead.

2)  Eat well – it’s all about quality rather than quantity but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional treat. Ultimately, a balanced diet is important for your brain and body, but these foods are thought to be particularly beneficial:

  • Wholegrains which release sugar slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer, this includes things like brown pasta and brown rice.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. If you don’t like fish, linseed and chia seeds are good alternatives.
  • Purple or deep red fruit and veg such as blueberries, grapes, cranberries and red cabbage, which according to American research improves your short-term memory.

3)  Mnemonics – don’t be put off by the spelling (said ni-mon-ik), this simply describes things like rhymes, songs and acronyms that help you remember information. For example, some common mnemonics that many of us have come across include:

  • Richard of York gave battle in vain, to remember the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Never eat shredded wheat, for compass points (north, east, south west).
  • FACE for the notes that sit inside the lines on the treble clef.

Needless to say, you don’t need to use ones that already exist and making up your own might make them easier to remember in the first place.

4)  Simplify – sometimes subjects are just hard to grasp but breaking everything down into bitesize statements or concepts no matter how silly can help. For example, communism vs capitalism in very simple terms could be summed up as: free sweets for all, no sweets for anyone (unless you can pay for them). Clearly the topics are more complex but understanding the basics should inspire you to recall more.

5)  Write it out – writing something out can help fix the idea in your head. Putting what you know on to paper can also lead to spin off ideas that help you expand on the subject. It doesn’t have to be straight text – mind maps, charts and diagrams are other great ways to make something stick in your mind.

6)  Say it out loud – as well as writing it, say it. Canadian research  shows that saying something out loud secures it into our long-term memories.

7)  Condense – when you’re confident about a topic, try condensing it onto a flash card using just bullet points. Each point should jog your memory on a key idea or aspect of that subject.

8)  Teach others – explaining something to someone else who has no knowledge of the subject makes it clear whether or not you really understand it, and if you can’t answer any questions they ask, it’s probably time to hit the books again.

9)  Socialise – when you’re revising or studying, it’s important not to let it take over your life. Taking a break is a good thing – helping you relax and in turn, keeping you fresh and alert.

10) Exercise your brain and body – exercise can help improve your memory so it’s important to keep exercising even if you’re in the middle of revising for exams. But it’s not just your body you need to keep active, while your brain isn’t a muscle, it’ll benefit just as much from a mental workout. Whether you choose crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, learn a new language or take up a musical instrument, challenging yourself is the best way to keep your brain working at peak performance.

Help when you need it

Revising is one thing but if you’re struggling with a certain subject in the first place, it’s crucial to ask for help. At The Community Schools, we offer one to one and small group tuition, and support students as individuals each with a different learning style.

To find out more about how we can help email us at and we’ll come back to you as soon as we can.

How to Motivate Yourself to Study

top tips for motivation

It’s all about motivation – Top tips for getting motivated for exam revision

If you’ve got essays to hand in, or are preparing for mocks or resists, it can be hard to motivate yourself – especially at this time of year.

It’s even worse when you know you need to knuckle down, but for whatever reason, you just can’t find the motivation to get started. So, if you’re feeling a little uninspired or find yourself procrastinating – here are some tips to get you back to your books:

Think about why you’re feeling unmotivated

It’s worth taking a few minutes to consider this. Perhaps you’ve just reached your limit at that moment in time, or is your lack of motivation because you don’t understand something? Sometimes getting to grips with the cause of the problem can help you find a solution, so be honest with yourself.

Make it real and look at past papers

If you’re studying for exams or writing essays, answering past papers or researching previous titles will give you something more tangible to focus on.

Try new techniques

Studying doesn’t always have to mean burying your nose in a book and different techniques work for different people. If you’re not getting anywhere with textbooks, think about other ways you can soak up information or carry out research. Why not try listening to podcasts or watching videos – they might not be ‘conventional’, but they can help you see things from a different perspective and sometimes can give you more context around a subject.

Take a break

More often than not, sometimes you just need to take a break. Revising and studying isn’t an endurance contest and sometimes you just need to step back and think about what you’ve already done. If you’ve been stuck indoors, a quick walk and some fresh air or a catch up with friends could be all you need to reenergise yourself.

Study in chunks

To make sure you do take regular breaks, make a point of only studying in chunks of time. The average attention span is just 14 minutes[1] so revising for hours on end is unrealistic even for the most motivated of us. If a subject feels intimidating because there’s a lot to learn, break it up into bitesize pieces and tackle it in topics or themes.

Don’t doubt yourself

It’s not unusual to feel some self-doubt, especially if you’ve got mocks or resists around the corner and although it’s tempting to – don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just because a classmate says they spend five hours a day revising, or that they feel confident – it’s not always the case. Focus on your achievements and how you feel because when it comes to your exams, it’s all that matters.

Do one thing at a time

Don’t be tempted to multitask when it comes to revising or researching and writing essays. Choose one subject at a time and concentrate on the task at hand.

Work as a team

If you’ve got friends studying the same subject, setting up a revision group can help motivate all of you. Use it as a forum where you can ask for help, exchange ideas or simply to encourage each other.


You might not feel like you have time to do this, but exercise boosts energy and can help motivate you (as well as make you feel good). So, whether you run, walk, or enjoy doing classes, it’s a good idea to schedule in some activities.

Ask for help

If you’re really struggling to focus or don’t understand a particular subject or topic, then ask for help. Your teachers aren’t just there to tell you what to do, they’re a great resource and are subject specialists.

How we can help you

If you do feel you need extra support and help to motivate yourself with your studies, then The Community Schools can also help. We offer tuition in small groups or one-to-one and focus on an individual’s learning style enabling students to reach their full potential.  For more information about how we can help, contact us on 07747 037441 or fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.