Which revision techniques should I be using to get the best results?
You’ve got a choice when it comes to exam season. You can either choose boring, ineffective revision techniques (like passively reading your text-book on your bed checking your phone every five minutes). Or, you can choose revision techniques that are more effective, more efficient and more active and actually get you great results.
In this article I’m going to explain how to find the revision techniques that will work for you.
How to choose the right revision techniques for you
The first thing to realise is that not every revision technique works for every person. So, just because your best friend is using mind maps with great success it doesn’t mean you should jump on the mind-maps bandwagon.
Before you start revising take some time to reflect on how you learn best. Use these prompts to help you.
- Write down three occasions where your learning has worked particularly well. They could be lessons from the classroom or from when you’ve been studying independently at home.
- Why did these learning methods work so well for you?
- What kind of environment do you need to be in to make your learning effective? Do you need quiet, gentle background noise, to be with other people who are studying or to be alone in silence?
When you’ve answered those questions you’ll have a good idea about how you learn best. Next, you need to work out how you’re going to apply those learning methods to independent revision at home.
Make a Mind Map.
All in the spirit of making it a bit more fun, the theory goes that using visual cues will help you remember more effectively. A mind map is a simple diagram you make with lots of branches demonstrating related ideas. Why not start each session by drawing a mind map and you may find you include ideas you had forgotten or that may be genius inclusions even your teacher or lecturer has not considered."Linda Hobbis, editor of Mother Distracted.
For example, if you learn particularly well from class debates you might like to think about how you could mimic class debates in your own bedroom. Maybe you could get a group of fellow students together to have your own debate. Alternatively, you could prepare arguments for the different sides of the debate and then act it out (don’t worry, people forgive you for talking to yourself when you’re studying for exams. It’s not a sign of madness - it’s a sign of hard work!).
Now, you need to creatively apply your best learning methods to your own revision. But remember, active techniques (where you’re actually doing something with the information) are always more successful than passive techniques (like simply reading).
Monitor your success
As you’re revising you should always be thinking to yourself, ‘How successful is this revision? How well am I remembering this? How well am I understanding it?’
If all is going well then keep doing what you’re doing. However, if there’s a problem you need to work out what it is and solve it.
Sometimes you might just be tired and need a break. Other times you might just need a change which you can get by using a different revision technique. Identify the problem, find a solution and go with it.
Set a timer for short intervals and take breaks in between. It puts pressure on to get work done in short bursts but doesn't tire you out!"Kisha Bradley - mybrighttoys.com.
Do past papers
One thing lots of students put off doing is past papers. It’s common to think that you’ll do all the content learning first then do loads of past papers. This rarely works well as you end up not having enough time to do enough past papers.
A great way to solve this problem (and to monitor how successful your revision is as you go along) is to do revision power hours.
Revision power hours have five simple steps:
- Choose a past paper question (or an extract from a question). Instructions on how to find past papers are here.
- Revise the content you need to know to answer that question
- Do the question
- Mark your answer using the mark scheme from the exam board’s website (instructions on how to find the mark scheme are here).
- Check how good your marking is with your teacher.
This is a great technique as it makes you repeat the section of knowledge that you’re focusing on three times in one short revision session through:
- Memorising content
- Explaining it in your own words
- Reviewing what you’ve written with reference to the mark scheme
Of course, it also improves your exam technique as well!
Fail safe revision techniques for everyone
While I very much encourage you to focus on revision techniques that work for you, there are some techniques that are very effective for everyone.
Revise on the move. Having your notes recorded means you can listen to them anywhere - on your morning commute, whilst waiting to see the dentist etc."Linda Hobbis, editor of Mother Distracted.
Teach someone else
As a teacher I had to know my subject better than ever before in my life. You can’t teach something, and particularly you can’t answer questions about it, unless you know and understand it inside and out. So, when you’ve finished learning some content find someone to teach it to. If you can’t get them to understand then you don’t understand or know it well enough yourself yet.
The beauty of revision cards is that they force you to reduce what you need to know down into bite-sized chunks. These days you can choose between actual physical cards or an app like Quizlet. However, I would encourage you to go the old-fashioned way as actually going through the process of thinking about what to write and physically writing it down is part of the process of getting the information to stick in your head.
Over to you
I’ve given you my very best tips on how to choose revision techniques that work for you and will lead to you maximising your potential in your exams. It’s up to you now to take responsibility for your revision and constantly monitor what’s working and stop doing, or change, the things that aren’t.