Five ways to revise away from your desk

The road to your exams may feel like a two-month ‘desk sentence’. You’re chained to your notes with no hope of ever leaving your room. But it doesn’t have to be like that at all.

You can soak up important information as part of your everyday life too. You can do it around the house, while seeing your friends, or when you’re out and about in the open air.

Sounds too good to be true? Fear not. Take a look at our suggestions for revising away from your desk, and decide what works for you.

Surround yourself with information

Your entire home can aid your study in the run-up to an exam. Invest in some sticky notes and pop them up in the place you visit most throughout the day.

Get that historical quote, scientific diagram or maths equation up on the fridge door, so you’re reminded of it every time you reach for the milk. Pop it on the bathroom mirror and you can revise while brushing your teeth too.

Sticky notes work like flashcards, especially if you cover one of them up and try to remember what’s written on them.

It’s all about active recall, where you are encouraged to remember something as a whole, rather than reading it from the page.

Revising concepts in this way is known to create stronger neural connections in your memory and help the info stay in your brain.

You don't need to go to these extremes - but notes left around the house can help with your revision.


Revision time can be stressful and one proven way of tackling those nerves is to exercise. It’s important to take breaks anyway, but incorporating exercise into that time out can reduce those stress levels, even if you fit one 20-minute session into your day.

An exercise break can lift your mood and help you focus when you get back to the books.

While you’re breaking a sweat, your brain produces the chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good and improve your mood. Endorphins also rush around your body. These help you retain important information, so by popping out for a jog you’re actually preparing your brain for forthcoming study sessions.

If going for a run sounds daunting, start slowly at home. Try two sets of 15 star jumps, followed by two sets of 15 squats (without using weights). These are part of the NHS recommendations for cardio exercise which beginners can attempt indoors. Just make sure you have enough ceiling clearance before you start jumping!

Video call your friends

Get a few of your pals together on a video call to test each other on those challenging subjects can be a productive way of taking a break.

Get your friends round for an interactive revision session.

Make a quiz of it to make it feel even less like a study session. Find out which of your friends knows the most of those key dates in the Cold War or the process of nuclear fission. It’s a bit of fun and you’re learning from each other’s knowledge at the same time.

Take your study outside

If it’s a nice day, get yourself out there. Study notes are that much more inviting when read in the sunshine. You’re also boosting your vitamin D intake, which is good for your health.

Combine a run to your local park with a study session once you get there and you’re also combing the benefits of exercise on your brain with a relaxing revision hour (or two) in the open air as well. Best remember to take a brolly though - just in case!

Studying outside on a sunny day offers a well-earned break from your desk.

Listening to music

Nick Grimshaw and Professor Catherine Loveday recently spoke to Bitesize about how music can help your wellbeing, and Dr Alex, best known for his stint on Love Island, told Bitesize that any music you love, whether it’s hardcore grime or K-Pop, can help you calm down and de-stress, but don’t listen to anything you dislike just for the sake of it, or it might have the opposite effect!

However, some students find listening to music while revising quite distracting, so find out if it works for you or not.

Listening to classical music can help you focus on the task in hand.

The truth is that knuckling down with the notes has to be done, if we want to give ourselves a fighting chance in the exam hall. But vary that with alternative ways of absorbing the information you need, and revision time might get just that little bit easier.

Revision: how to get organised
Exam essentials: Planning your revision
Revision: how to get started