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Top Exam Study Techniques to Try Out

By Chris, Student Content Creator

Unlock exam success, explore exam techniques old and new

As exams loom it might seem like everyone else is well-prepared while you're still unsure which study technique works best for you. Don't worry! In the next few paragraphs, I'll outline several popular (and some lesser known) study techniques for you to try out today and see if they help you! 

Pomodoro Technique

hourglass with red sand on a newspaper

The Pomodoro technique is a popular method that students use while revising. It involves setting a timer to cap the amount of time you spend studying before taking a break. This structured approach ensures regular breaks, allowing you to study longer and be more productive compared to continuous studying. 

It helps prevent burnout by providing regular breaks, and you can adjust the length of each study session and break to suit your needs. Personally, I prefer a 50-minute study session followed by a 10-minute break, but you can alter this to your personal preference.

There are various combinations of timings, and what works for one person may not work for another, so it's worth experimenting. 

If you're on a Mac, I recommend using the "Flow" app. It's a Pomodoro timer that sits in the corner of your screen, prompting breaks and work sessions while keeping track of completed study sections. 

Spaced Repetition

image of anki being used on a laptop

Spaced repetition is a method where you repeat flashcard questions at growing intervals of time, to help get that information into your long-term memory. It is better used on a longer-term basis so you can cover more content before exams, however it also works on a day-to-day basis, when you’re trying to remember that one thing you just keep forgetting. 

This is one of the techniques that if you can’t implement now before your exams, I highly recommend doing this for your next exam period! 

Anki is a popular app among medical science students that uses flashcards and spaced repetition to aid memory retention. However, it can be challenging to keep up with reviewing older cards while learning new ones simultaneously. 

Blurting/Mind Maps

image of a mindmap for web development

These methods focus on putting your thoughts down on paper. 


This involves verbalising or writing down your thoughts while studying to reinforce learning and discover areas that need deeper revision. It's especially useful for making connections between topics, particularly in science-based subjects. 

Start with a topic (like a mind map) and jot down everything you know about it. Afterward, compare it with your notes to identify areas that need more focus. Personally, when I'm pressed for time, I verbalise my thoughts as if explaining them to someone else. Writing everything down takes longer, but it helps visualise areas where I'm less proficient—it's a trade-off. 

I wouldn't rely solely on blurting as a primary study technique, but rather use it to summarise what I've learned and pinpoint areas needing more attention. 

Mind Maps

Like blurting, mind maps are a visual way to organise your knowledge. 

Mind maps can be overlooked at university but are valuable for revising. They help visualise connections within and between modules, aiding in focused revision before exams. 

While not my favourite technique (I prefer blurting), mind mapping is a quicker way to brainstorm on paper and visualise connections between subjects. Many digital mind map apps are available; one I use occasionally on Mac is "Mindnode," but there are plenty of alternatives! 

Mind Palace

architectural blueprints 

This is a more abstract technique famously used by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. 

Mind palaces involve creating a mental "palace" where you assign spaces to things you want to remember. For example, imagine your brain as a palace where each room or space represents different concepts or information. 

Building a mind palace takes time and practice, and while it doesn't work for everyone, mastering it can be incredibly effective. 


So, if you’re planning on experimenting with any of these methods, or you have everything sorted out, remember to prioritise your mental well-being and your own time for things you want to do- whether that’s playing sport or hanging out with friends. Balancing studying with breaks, and relaxation is key to achieving as best as you can this exam period. 

Good luck! 



By Chris, first-year Medicine student and Student Content Creator