Did you know that you can “trick” your brain into remembering information? All you have to do is make a few changes in the way you approach your revision. So with no further ado, here are Love Learning Tutors’ favoured methods of revision, perfect for keeping key ideas in your noggin during exam season, whether you're doing your GCSE, A Levels or IB exams!
1) Organisation: If you are revising from muddled and unclear notes then your memory will be just as muddled and unclear on the subject. Group your revision notes into topics. Rewrite your notes if need be to make them clearer and more streamlined. Use colours to highlight key information and actively associate the colour with those ideas to make it easier to remember. Use a maximum of three colours, anymore and you will probably get confused between them. Don’t take this in the opposite direction either; don’t waste time making your notes look pretty, after your exams, you won’t need them anymore!
2) The Pomodoro technique: revise for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break. After 2 hours, take a 30-minute break. Start over. The reason for this is that your brain will retain a certain amount of information input. After 25 minutes, your information retention (your ability to remember stuff) decreases. Taking a break and doing something else for five minutes gives your brain a chance to “reset” and take in more information once again. Cramming is for fools!
3) Reward Yourself With A Treat! This works particularly well with the break in the Pomodoro technique. If you have a more immediate motive for revising, then you will pay greater attention. However, beware it does not become a distraction or the main purpose of your revision. However, you will need to discipline yourself, have you really earnt that biscuit yet?
4) Chunking: group similar information into chunks, then group the chunks into bigger chunks! Try putting information into groups of threes, you’ll remember it better. Consider using colours and different fonts to set your chunks apart. If it is a particularly key idea, consider using a mnemonic to memorise the order of it eg. (Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain)
5) A picture is worth a thousand words!: Most of us will remember a picture better than words, and second, the more senses you involve in learning or storing something, the better you will be at recalling it. This is why speaking out loud instead of simply reading is also more effective as you are exercising two revision techniques at once. With this in mind, draw key ideas so that they become memorable and clear to you! Draw diagrams of the links between ideas. A simple spider diagram can demonstrate a great deal of complex information. Draw a map to show how to answer particularly tricky questions!
6) Build a “Mind” palace!: This technique teaches you to use markers within a room to recall key information by associating it over and over again with that object. If you use the same space very often or If you know where your exams will be held (Hall/Canteen/Gym) then you can base your ideas on that room.
Example: I need to memorise the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) for a test. I look at the room the test is in (My history classroom) and I associate those three ideas with three objects within the room. I might choose my teacher’s comfy chair to remind me of “executive” (it looks like an executive’s chair), I might choose the classroom rules to remind me of “legislative” (legislative means to do with rules or laws) and I will choose my teacher’s desk to remind me of “judicial” (from a certain angle, the table looks like a judge’s raised desk).
7) Use your everyday space: How long do you spend looking in the mirror each morning, brushing your teeth or combing your hair? Now imagine you had a post-it, revision card or key note with information that you always forget stuck to the side of the mirror. This could be as simple as a key definition or as complex as a diagram of a cell. Take into account how long you will be in that area (There’s no point putting up more material than you can revise in the five minutes it takes you to brush your teeth!)
8) Use your public space: You are more likely to recall information that you have revised in multiple locations. Additionally, your home space undoubtedly contains many distractions whereas if you set yourself the task of studying at your local cafe or library, you have a singular purpose for being there. You can’t leave without studying!
9) Don’t just memorise content! Practise it! You are far more likely to recall information if you have actively used it in different contexts. Instead of reading and rereading the same sentences, try rephrasing the information and writing it down. Your chances of recall are much higher if you interact with the information. Discuss it with your friends! Unsure of how something is applied? Google it! Apply what you have learnt into different situations. Teach your family about meiosis or the cold war, you’ll be surprised by their interest or by what they may know. Consider how you could research or revise information in new and informative ways.
10) Keep your body healthy: Although it may seem beneficial to prioritise revision ahead of all things, your ability to revise is influenced by your physical and mental health, So, make sure you have a good amount of sleep, exercise properly and eat healthily! It is also important (if difficult) to keep a positive mindset during exam period. To combat the exam season blues, make sure you can see progress in your revision by taking a moment to consider the topics you have mastered so far, draw on the support of your family and friends and don’t forget to treat yourself to a bath or a hot cocoa. Best of luck for your exams!
These revision tips were brought to you by Mark Comfort. He is an English and French teacher with us at Love Learning.