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How to Revise With ADHD

Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can face various different struggles when it comes to academics. Sometimes, focussing in a classroom can be difficult as people with ADHD tend to be quite easily distracted.
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How to Revise With ADHD

01/09/2022
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Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can face various different struggles when it comes to academics. Sometimes, focussing in a classroom can be difficult as people with ADHD tend to be quite easily distracted. However, in a classroom scenario there are clear tasks, a structure and direct support that is usually available. Revision on the other hand, requires the individual to manage their own structure, stick to their own timeframes and essentially take their learning into their own hands.

In this blog, our ADHD experts will discuss the more specific reasons behind why those with ADHD struggle to revise, as well as some useful tips on how to make the process work better for you as a student.

Why Does Having ADHD Make it Difficult to Revise?

So, what is it about having ADHD that makes revision so difficult? In short, the ADHD brain is wired slightly differently to the neurotypical brain, with a key part of the condition being the ‘Attention Deficit’. As such, being able to maintain focus is one of the main issues when it comes to revision. Naturally, to revise successfully, focus, time management and planning are all key elements – and some of the key symptoms of ADHD may not facilitate these elements easily. For example, symptoms often include a combination of the following:

  • An inability to focus or prioritise, often starting new tasks before finishing current tasks: This can make revision seem daunting, particularly if there are multiple subjects to cover.
  • Generally poor organisational skills: Having a structure to stick to is important for students with ADHD, and with revision, it is usually their responsibility to create one and stick to it.
  • Difficulty remembering information: Revision is unproductive if nothing you revise can be remembered, but unfortunately for students with ADHD, forgetfulness is a significant symptom. Finding the most appropriate revision technique for you is vital.
  • Difficulty dealing with stress: If you are revising, it means exams are just around the corner, and this can cause significant stress for anyone. Individuals with ADHD may feel this stress in a slightly different way, and it can sometimes have more of a noticeable impact on their day-to-day lives.

While revision can seem overwhelming to some, the good news is that there are plenty of ADHD study strategies, revision aids and resources out there to help students with ADHD, and you will usually be able to find support in your school, college or university. Understanding how to revise with ADHD can make all the difference in your school, college or university exams. In the meantime, you can take our handy tips on board.

How to Revise With ADHD

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Revision works differently for everyone, and some techniques may be more useful than others. With that said, it’s important to take the time to work out what’s best for you so that you have the best chance of success. Below we discuss some of the most appropriate studying and revision tips for students with ADHD.

5 ADHD Study Strategies

Consider your time management

Managing time is typically difficult for students with ADHD, but to revise properly, giving yourself a set of time-based rules is hugely important, and can be the difference between a successful revision session and an unsuccessful one.

  • Firstly, it can help to allow yourself extra time for certain tasks. Whether you need to read a long chapter in a book, complete a worksheet or start on a specific assignment, make sure you give yourself as much time as possible so as not to overwhelm yourself with the task. You can try speaking to your tutors about getting extended deadlines if you think this would help you.
  • ‘Cramming’ or doing all your revision the night before the test does no real good for anyone, but the ADHD brain in particular will struggle with this method. It will be easier to become overwhelmed with the amount of information you have to learn if you do not give yourself enough time. Plan in advance what needs to be done and when, and you will have a much smoother and more successful experience.
  • Prioritising your tasks is another important part of time management. Make yourself a detailed list and note the date by which each task should be completed. Having your tasks ordered in this way can help you get started and stick to a schedule.
  • Be realistic about how long things take to complete. If you aren’t sure, try setting timers for specific tasks and noting down how long each one takes so that you can plan your time in accurate blocks.

Find the optimal studying environment

  • It’s often said that if you use the same environment in which to revise, your brain will be more likely to remember the information you take in. Try to find somewhere at home, or in a library, that you can use as a dedicated revision space. The space should be quiet enough for you to focus, and it will also be helpful to have minimal distractions. For example, it might not be a good idea to sit by a window, as you could be easily distracted by something going on outside.
  • Use folders, binders or labels to organise your notes and materials. Try to have a system of organisation from the offset so that you can avoid having to do it all later. You should also try to keep your study environment tidy as this can also help your focus.

Try different studying techniques

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  • As mentioned, there are a range of different ways you can approach your revision, and specific techniques that have been shown to work well for students with ADHD. You can try using highlighting and colour coding for your study notes, or use the Pomodoro technique if you need help specifically with your time management.
  • Try studying both alone and in a group to see which works best for you. Some students with ADHD find group study more interesting, engaging and easier to focus on.
  • Use active revision techniques, such as answering and coming up with questions rather than just reading a block of text. You can make clear, concise points based on texts and review these afterwards and in short intervals. Discover what works best for you and keep it consistent.

Structure your studying and seek support

  • Find your prime study time when your brain works at its best. You might find you work best in the mornings, the evenings or even after exercise. Try different scenarios and see when your brain feels the most focussed.
  • Speak to others who have had similar experiences. Many people with ADHD have gone on to be highly successful in academics, and you may be able to find some useful advice online, through social media or in support groups.
  • Ask your tutor for guidance or revision materials. Tutors are there to help you and may be able to offer additional support if you are struggling with a specific subject, or even in need of general guidance in terms of how to start the revision process.
  • Try to keep to your routines. Consistency is key when it comes to successful revision, particularly for students with ADHD.

Use breaks and rewards

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  • Organise your revision time, but include plenty of space for other important things. Don’t forget to give yourself breaks, and enough time to rest, exercise and eat well. You might also want to plan in some important social time or time that is simply for yourself.
  • You can use different kinds of rewards for your studying if you think this will help you maintain interest and focus. For example, you might use small incentives throughout the day such as a break for snacks or time to watch an episode of your favourite TV show. You might then consider larger breaks or rewards for completing significant tasks such as a large assignment. This could be something like a meal out with a friend, a night off from studying or a shopping trip.

There are a number of other techniques and methods that students can use to help aid their revision success, and it’s important to note that not all styles of revision will have the same effect on every student. Finding what works for you is a vital first step, and part of that involves understanding your ADHD and what your symptoms mean. Having a proper ADHD assessment from a specialist can help you start making the right decisions that will be able to support your academic success.

ADHD Support for Students

The ADHD Centre can provide support to students with ADHD in the form of a proper assessment, quick diagnosis and bespoke treatment. Benefit from our expert support today and learn how to better manage your ADHD symptoms and stop them from impacting your studies.

Book an assessment directly to begin your ADHD treatment journey, or contact us at The ADHD Centre on 0800 061 4276 or via enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk.

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