How to revise and work when you're ill

Know this feeling?


This is a topic rarely covered by teachers and I'm sure, like me, as soon as the weather changes, your body starts to shut down with colds and flus. November - February however are the powerhouse months of the year in terms of revision. These months often include mock exams and holidays where students are told to make the most of the revision time.

So what do you do when you inevitably become ill and have revision to do?

1. Firstly, take some days completely off

When I say off, I mean of everything, not just revision. The difference between being able to push through and not, definitely depends on the severity of your illness. If you have a fever, headache or any other symptoms making it difficult to focus, the best thing you can initially do is take a few days completely off with no intention of any work - remove the worry and obligation.

The important thing to do is not be brave fitting in other things, really take those days off from EVERYTHING with a focus on getting better; eat the right foods, sleep as much as possible, get fresh air when you can, let others help you and rest. 

2. Secondly, start by doing shorter bursts

As you start to feel a bit better and the symptoms that remain are a sore throat or a nagging cough, it would be detrimental to then go full steam ahead to catch back up; you will make yourself ill again.

On your first day back with revision, do 3 half an hour slots throughout the day to test your concentration and ability to retain information. Continue to do short bursts as you feel more human and slowly bring up the revision time, whilst continuing with all the remedies and activities you've been doing to get better.

3. Thirdly, don't worry about catching up

If you lost some revision days due to illness, it is not a problem. It is far better that you got yourself well again for the rest of the academic year. For the topics you have managed to revise in the time, it is likely you will know them better than if you hadn't been ill at all, as you didn't have to spread yourself so thinly - so there is a silver lining to every cloud!


Do remember that exams are a test for life. As you grow up you will have jobs / families / responsibilities, all of which feel like they pile up as soon as you're unwell. Use exams as a practice for how to manage it; you need to prioritise your health and the best outcome will follow. Remember:

1. rest

2. ramp up slowly; and

3. be proud of what you achieved despite the circumstances!

Best of luck this winter with all your revision and I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year! See you in 2018...