Have you ever wondered what the most effective revision techniques are? Well, in 2013, this question was answered by a team of psychologists from Kent State University. In their study, they assessed the 10 most popular techniques for learning and revising information to try and work out which ones students should adopt and which ones students should forget about. In this post, we’ll share with you the most effective ways of revising for your exams based on the findings of this 2013 study.
First up, here are some of the least effective revision strategies:
- Leaving revision to the last minute.
- Write pages and pages of summaries.
- Re-reading all of your school notes – over and over again.
- Highlighting/underlining key words.
Why don’t these techniques work? Well, according to the psychologists’ results, these techniques are categorised as being LOW in effectiveness because they don’t encourage your brain to actively engage with the material.
In other words, the more you engage with the material, the more likely you are to A) stay focused on it, and B) store it in your long-term memory.
That, according to this study, is the key to revising like a boss and passing your exams.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective revision strategies that you can put to use right away:
1. Distributed Practice
This is a fancy way of saying “make a start on your revision early.” You really want to start revising three months before your exams and plan your time effectively. A revision timetable or planner can help you get organised and make sure that you have a revision routine, like one hour a day after school and two hours per day on weekends. You also want to spend more time on your weakest subjects or topics first, leaving those you are more comfortable with until later on.
2. Practice Testing
Testing yourself is one the most effective methods of revising because it forces you to recall information from deep in your memory bank. When you’ve finished reviewing a topic, you want to test yourself on everything that you have learned. There are lots of ways you can do this:
- Use flash cards to learn key concepts, dates, or ideas.
- Write a list of key points and ask a friend to test you on them.
- Ask your teacher for a copy of a past exam paper and have a go at the questions.
- Set a timer for two minutes. You have now two minutes to explain everything that you know about a particular topic.
- Use these suggestions in combination to prevent boredom.
Once you start testing yourself, you will quickly realise where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Here’s an example: let’s say that are revising the themes and literary devices used by Shakespeare in Macbeth. When a friend tests you, you have no problem listing symbols and motifs, but you can’t seem to remember more than one theme. This is a clue that you need to go back and work on themes. (Don’t worry, QuickLits can help with that 🙂 )
By constantly reviewing what you know (and don’t know), you will get the most from your revision time, giving you the best chance at success when it comes to your exam.
One more thing …
Revision is important but so is your mental health. Take regular breaks from your revision, stay in touch with friends, do things you enjoy. Don’t let exam stress bring you down.
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