how to revise for exams

Three top tips for improving your Christmas hols revision

Why balance is key to ensuring you work, rest and play this Christmas holiday

No one would deny that this has been a very strange year indeed, with school, college and university students facing significant upheaval and disruption. So, more than ever, this Christmas holiday offers an important chance to reflect and think ahead to the challenges of 2021, and how you may need to adapt to them.

importance of sleep for study
Most importantly, it’s also an opportunity to rest, possibly catch up on some much-needed sleep and spend quality time (albeit via Zoom or Facetime in many cases!) with those who mean most to you. Unfortunately, however, it’s unlikely that you will be able to avoid academic work altogether, particularly if you are in a significant year of study. And, like any break, this vacation presents a way of consolidating and getting ahead so that you are in a strong position next term.

Clearly, more so than with other hols, there are multiple demands on your time over Xmas, from family commitments to shopping. This year, however, circumstances are different, with many attractions closed and restrictions on the number of people you can see. Even so, your holi-‘days’ are precious, so make sure you’re careful how long you devote to that thief of time, the Internet! (Unless you’re binge-watching TLC revision videos, of course …)


Here are three top tips for finding the perfect balance that will allow you to keep on top of academic work while also factoring in vital rest, relaxation and family time.

  • Ring-fence your study time

Choose a time of day that suits you to get on with some work – and stick to it. How about doing a few hours before lunch, say between 10am and 1pm, and then the rest of the day can be yours? Alternatively, you may prefer to do your studying later in the afternoon or evening.

Let everyone know so that they’re aware not to disturb you – one advantage of regularly ring-fencing a few hours of the day is that you’re more likely to have your time respected.

Equally, don’t use having to study as an excuse not to play a full part in family life.

  • Be realistic about what you can do

It’s very easy to begin the holidays with the best of intentions. But it’s also important to be realistic about what you can achieve, and so much better to start the new term having completed three productive hours’ holiday study a day than to have aimed to do six or eight daily and failed.

No one will know better than you how long you can concentrate for effectively. If you estimate that you lose focus after 25 minutes, then use the Pomodoro technique (check out and work in bouts of 25 minutes with short breaks in-between.

If you can focus for 45 minutes at a time, then that’s what to aim for. Plan your study sessions based on how you work best (which may be completely different from how your best friend studies).

  • Plan where you will study

If you share a room with a younger sibling, it could be tricky to decide where you are going to study in peace. So think ahead and have a chat with your parents or guardians about finding a suitably quiet ‘study area’ in the house – especially if you can foresee difficulties concentrating.

spend time outdoors in nature for focus

Don’t start the holiday without a plan as to how you will achieve a good daily balance between work, rest and play. Equally, remember that fresh air and exercise should also be a key part of your daily routine, so wrap up warm and get outside at least once a day. Spending time in nature is proven to have many benefits – including improved focus!


In Scotland, even while this blog was being written, the return dates for schools were being delayed by government, so independent study skills are going to be especially important over the next few weeks.

Stay safe and be sure to strike the right balance between work and play during this important mid-winter break, so you can return (eventually!) to school in the New Year full of renewed energy, knowledge and determination.

balance study and fun at Christmas

Credit for Featured Photo of Teenager Studying:

All other photos taken by author

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