Revision is hard... But revision when you have ADD... It sometimes feels like it's near impossible. So we've got some top tips to help you through!

Juggling overlapping deadlines, cramming, and watching assignment after assignment pile up….exam time can be daunting for any student, especially those with ADHD/ADD. Luckily, it is not about how long you study, but HOW you study. Here are some pointers to help you to manage your library time, and make exam season your b*tch.


1. One Pomodoro, two Pomodoro…

The Pomodoro Technique is an ideal time management strategy for students with ADHD. The creator, Francesco Cirillo, named it after the tomato-shaped timer he used in his kitchen that gave him the idea. A Pomodoro usually consists of a 25-minute period of work and a 5-minute break, and after the fourth Pomodoro, you can take a longer break. This technique is ideal for working in short bursts which will heighten your focus, and for avoiding distractions.

Find a link to a Pomodoro timer here.

2. The 5-minute challenge

This is a good technique for if you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed at the idea of starting a task, and motivation is low. Set a timer for five minutes and tell yourself to focus on that task until the timer runs out. By the time you have done the task for just five minutes, you’ll probably realise that it’s really not that bad, and you might even want to carry on! After that, you’ll be in hyper-focused mode in no time.

If you still don’t feel like it after five minutes, set the stopwatch for another five. Keep doing this, and before you know it, you will have been studying for half an hour.

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3. Keep Calm and Don’t Cram

For students with ADHD, cramming is about as useful as getting a gorilla to try and jump-start a motorbike with a Pringle. For us, it’s best to break up revision into bite-size pieces over a long period of time. Cramming is a short-term strategy, which means your brain won’t store the information in your long-term memory, and students who cram will forget most of the material immediately after the exam. Against common belief, cramming is not unavoidable, if you plan carefully enough. Start revising for your exam weeks in advance and remember – little and often is key. For example, a language learner might set aside 15-20 minutes a day to go through vocab flashcards, an easy habit to stick to. This way, the vocab is ingrained in your long-term memory, and learning it becomes much less overwhelming than trying to tackle it all in one big go.

To find a useful flashcards site, click here. 

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4. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings and Listen to Your Body

Make sure you have a light, quiet study space with no distractions around you. If you have been allocated an Accessible Study room, use it. Develop a routine, and stick to it – consistency is key. It is a lot easier to settle if you know exactly where you are headed every day. If something about where you are studying makes you feel uncomfortable and doesn’t work for you, address the problem immediately and change it up until you feel settled. Come equipped with lots of water and plenty of snacks to keep you from getting hungry or thirsty.

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5. Work it Out

It is very important for young people with ADHD to keep active. Exercising releases endorphins and is an excellent way to release stress and feel good, and studies have even shown that when the brain is stimulated by physical activity it is better at processing and retaining information, so whether it’s a brisk walk in the park or a hardcore gym sesh, make sure that you keep moving.

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6. TAKE A BREAK – but keep it snappy!

Even if you feel like you are lagging behind or being unproductive, don’t try and keep slugging through your work without taking a break – it will just make you work much less efficiently and the results will be poor quality. It’s important to take regular short breaks – try to make them active as well, like going for a short walk. However, don’t take such a long break that you lose momentum. The longer the break you take from work, the harder it will be to settle back into it, and you may even grind to a complete standstill. They say that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person to do, so make sure that your breaks are carefully planned and stick to your time limits.

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Post-its are the fun-sized, bright and sticky glue that holds my life together and make it the colourful collage it is. Had an idea for your conclusion whilst in the middle of your essay? Half-way through your dissertation when you realise you forgot to take the bins out? Pop it on a post-it to remind you later. Been told a key date and don’t have time to put it in your diary? Pop it on a post-it to get to later. Archive any rogue thought that happens to be flitting through your mind and you can happily get back to what you’re doing without getting side-tracked. Stick them everywhere – on the fridge, on your mirror, on your laptop… Put them wherever they need to go to catch your eye. Also, it’s very satisfying to scrumple them up and throw them away once the task is completed.

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8. Get Support

Your university should have an excellent special needs support service, and it’s there to help, so make sure you use it. If you’re struggling with organisation, contact your Disability Services to arrange one-to-one support. If it’s a particular assignment you’re struggling with, make sure your Parent School knows so they can get any special arrangements put in place. If you’re struggling with mental health difficulties, contact your university Counselling Service to book a session. Remember, it’s okay to be struggling, and you don’t have to suffer in silence.

9. Take the time to Plan and Organize

In order to maintain focus, it’s vital that you ALWAYS know what you’re going to do next. People with ADHD often find the transfer from the completion of one task to starting the next, very challenging, so, to avoid confusion and indecision, make sure you’ve planned ahead. Also, be selective and prioritize – be realistic about your goals, otherwise you’ll just get demoralised. If you can, talk to a tutor or lecturer to ask them which parts of the module they think would be most relevant for the exam to help you choose your material.

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10. Allow for longer study time

Remember, you may take longer to complete a task than other students, so naturally, we might need a little more study time. Make sure you schedule this in and don’t get put off by the working pace of others – you do you.

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11. Social Media is Not Your Friend

Social media is the definition of distraction and the kryptonite of students with ADHD. It is a drifter, meaning that by procrastinating on social media you will drift further and further away from your assignment as you get sucked into the black hole of mindless scrolling. Next thing you know, three hours later, you find yourself balls deep in memes. The question of what kind of savage is behind that criminal hybrid pizza/ taco monstrosity of a Tasty video may seem like a very pressing issue right now, but the same blank, endless page is looming ominously before you. To prevent this, install the Self-Control app to block those ‘drifter’ sites, and use different ways to ease yourself into your work. For example, start off with a lighter task that seems interesting to you and build it up from there. For example, if you were writing an English Literature essay you could watch a short interview with the author of your book on YouTube. Hopefully this will get sparks flying in your wonderful ADHD brain, and you’ll be in hyper-focus mode before you know it.

To Install the Self-Control App, click here. 

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12. Think about WHY

Sometimes, when self-esteem is low, it’s very easy to lose motivation and lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Firstly, bear in mind that you are not being forced to do this work, it’s a choice which you have made, and try to remember the reason why you have made that choice. Being mindful when you study is the key to staying motivated. You may even want to take a few minutes to write down and reflect on what drove you to choose your study in the first place, and what outcomes you want from it. Once again: the key to success is not in the What or the How, but in the Why.

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