How To Stay Motivated When Revising

How to Stay Motivated?

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Finding the motivation to continually revise, complete homework and read ahead in a subject can be very difficult to maintain.  At the start of your GCSEs and A-levels it is easy to be motivated as you are embracing a fresh start and a new challenge, but as the workload piles up and revising for multiple exams looms, motivation can rapidly disappear and it can be all too easy to leave that for ‘future you’ to deal with.

In this blog I am going to focus on strategies to help you to try and stay motivated and in turn reduce the temptation to procrastinate and finish off with my favourite Dumbledore quote.

When I teach study skill at school, I start by asking students to write their top three challenges they face when trying to revise for their exams on post-it notes.  So, let’s start there, what are your top 3 challenges?

Top 3 challenges

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The most common responses I get from students are:

  1. I lack the motivation to revise
  2. I don’t have enough time to do everything / struggle to balance my time between subjects
  3. I struggle to focus/ always procrastinate

In this blog I will go through strategies to help you with these challenges, as will future blogs on time management and procrastination.

Dreams vs Goals

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We all have or have had dreams whether that is the dream to be a footballer, a lawyer, doctor, celebrity or maybe to just be incredibly rich.  None of these dreams are unachievable if you put the work in to achieve them, and that is the difference between a dream and a goal.  A dream is just that, something you sit and think about, but do nothing towards achieving.  A dream becomes a goal when you put steps in place that you act on to lead you towards making the dream a reality.

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Whether you are currently studying for your GCSEs or A-levels, think about what your dream is.  You may already have a really clear dream, but if not have a go at answering these questions as a starting point.

  • What job would you do for free?
  • If you knew for certain you wouldn’t fail, what would you do?
  • What is the current piece of work you are avoiding and why?
  • What piece of work have you most enjoyed completing this year? Consider why.

Your answer to these questions might start to help you to realise what your dream career would be.  Consider one action you could take this week to take you one step closer to making your dream a reality.  Is there a teacher you could ask for help to arrange work experience, or to advise you on suitable A-levels/university courses, or could you search online for voluntary work?  Take the leap and start to take control of your future.


Having a clear goal will help keep you motivated.  Once you have your clear goal try sticking a picture that represents this goal on your wall where you do your revision or on the front of your revision books.  If your goal is you want to achieve certain grades in your exams, or you want to get into a particular 6th form then have a picture of this stuck up.  If it is a particular career, or university you want to get into then stick a picture of this by your desk.  Or even if it is a picture of where you plan on going on holidays in the summer when all the exams are done as a reward for your hard work.  When you are revising and you feel that boredom kicking in and the temptation to look at your phone instead of working feels too much, look at your picture to remind yourself of your long term goal and how good it will feel when your hard work pays off.  See if this helps you to refocus and motivate yourself.

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You could go one step further and create your a vision board for where you want to be by age 21.  Include images which represent how you would want your friends and family to think of you, what your educational achievements would be, what job you would be starting, what university and course you studied and much more.  Stick your vision board up where you complete your homework and revision as a constant reminder what the hard work is for.

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Breaks are Important

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The brain cannot stay focussed continually all day, so if you are trying to do this you will be struggling and it will negatively impact your motivation.  Most teenagers will need a 5-minute break every hour, but this varies from person to person, for you 90 minutes of work and a 15 minute break might work better.  In your breaks leave the room you have been working in to make sure you have a change in environment, maybe go and make yourself a drink and grab a snack.  

Inner Motivation

My final tip is about where your motivation comes from.  To stay motivated, your goal that is motivating you has be from you and not others.  If your goal is being driven by parents or teachers, but you don’t buy in to it then you will not stay motivated.  You must decide what you truly want to achieve and use this as your inner motivation.  If your motivation is coming from within it will be much easier to stick at the work.

If you have seen my video on the ‘About’ page then you will have seen that I missed a lot of school between the age 13-16 because of illness.  Due to this I have unique and strong inner motivation, in that I was adamant I wouldn’t let an illness that had already negatively impacted my life in many ways stop me from achieving in my GCSEs and A-levels. I was constantly playing catch up at school, but my motivation to keep up with everyone and still achieve meant I had the inner drive to work.  This was my inner motivation and it worked because it was driven by my own personal goals.

Final Thoughts

Revision is tough and requires continual effort.  There might be times that you fail and lack motivation, but don’t beat yourself up about it and give in.  Accept that you had an off day and acknowledge that is normal, but don’t let that be your excuse to then completely give up.

One of my favourite, and yes perhaps rather geeky, quotes that I think about when I have to keep myself motivated to do jobs I don’t want to do or have to face a difficult decision is good old Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.-Albus Dumbledore’


J.K. Rowling

So with the revision coming up ahead of you, make sure you don’t pick the easy option that you end up regretting.

Keep working and you will smash it!

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