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London Marathon 2019 | Revision Advice

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

What do exam revision and the London Marathon have in common?

Medical School application tips

As you may have noticed, especially if you live in London or have a friend running it, today’s the London Marathon! Thousands of people come together to run and raise money for causes that are important to them.

This got me thinking about what we might be able to learn from a marathon whilst revising for our exams. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that going out and running a marathon instead of revising is a great idea! But if we think of our revision and working towards exams as a marathon, what might we learn?

1. Accept help from others

During the marathon, there are people stationed all along the route, handing out water bottles. A runner would be daft to refuse to have a drink, or to run with a huge bottle strapped to them, because they were too proud to accept help. When revising, it’s all too easy to wrestle with something alone, getting more and more tied up in knots with it. But a friend or classmate might be finding the same topic really straightforward – why not organise a revision trade-off, where you each help the other with an area you’re struggling in? And it is literally your teachers’ (and tutor’s!) job to help you learn and pass exams – they should always be happy to find time to go over something with you and help you understand it. Take the bottle of water, rather than collapsing in the race!

2. Community

Similarly, when revising it can be possible to move from bedroom to library and never really engage with another person. This isn’t great. Sure, private revision time is vital, and silent study is the way some people revise best, but everything is easier with a team cheering you on. Think of the marathon: one person running that distance would find it long and lonely, but a runner in the London Marathon is surrounded by thousands of people all putting in the same effort for the same result. And the route is lined with thousands of spectators all cheering you on, waving signs and shouting encouragement. Being encouraged and supported spurs productivity and self-esteem, so don’t isolate yourself from those who want to encourage you. Revise with friends, or take a revision break and go out somewhere fun. And if you feel like your parents are nagging you a lot, imagine it as the support of the spectators – they’re just fervently encouraging you to do the very best you can!

3. Get some exercise!

It’s mundane but true: exercise is great for you in general, but its benefits sky-rocket around exam season. Due to the hormones and chemical compounds released when you get active, exercising can help improve your sleep cycles, reduce stress, and even increase attention span and motivation. It also gets you outside, gives you a revision break whilst still doing something productive, and invariably boosts your mood. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, or even running: some people find boxing or other martial arts a great stress-buster, some love the release of dancing, the speed of cycling, or the relaxation of yoga. Whatever it is, get outside and get moving – your results will thank you!

4. Keep going

There are absolutely times in revision when everything seems hopeless and impossible and pointless. In those moments, be kind to yourself: go and eat chocolate, have a bath, get an early night; but in the morning, get up and try again. Marathon runners often talk about times in training that they sprained an ankle, threw up, collapsed with exhaustion, or just simply never ever wanted to go running ever again. But those who made it to the London Marathon looked after themselves, and then got back up and tried again. Most things only get easier with practice, and it’s amazing how much you can improve just by working at it a little every day.

5. It’s a marathon not a sprint!

It’s so cheesy, but it had to happen. Besides, it’s true. Runners in a marathon don’t start out at the pace they would if they were sprinting 100m. They pace themselves, conserving enough energy to keep going the distance. Revision is the same: if you start your exam leave with staying up all night, you’ll have burnt out long before exams come around. A balance of revision, sleep, exercise, food, and fun will achieve much better results than 24/7 work.

So look after yourself, be kind to yourself, and know that the finish line of your marathon is within sight, and a lot of people are cheering you on!

Blog Post Crafted by Rebecca

Subjects Taught: English, Maths, 7+, 11+

Background: Rebecca is one of our most popular tutors, with a degree in English from the University of Cambridge and hundreds of hours of private tuition experience in 7+, 11+, English and Maths. She is also an assessor for Titanium Tutors, observing the mock lessons taught by potential tutors and deciding whether or not they meet the high standards of the agency.


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