The Importance of Revision
A clear and structured approach to revision can improve your learning and ability to absorb important information. There are several tactics you can employ to better remember data and it can depend on your personality type. For example, visual learners use color, images and demonstrations and verbal learners on the other hand can clearly picture text and diagrams in their mind. Think about which one of these methods applies to you and if you have used this approach in the past. The following five tips will help both types of learner so read on to better develop your revision techniques today.
1. Note Taking
Whether it is a school exam or revising for your driving test, notes can be your best friend when it comes to revision. Making notes means that you are attempting to put what you have learned into practice and into your own words. Notes help to re-emphasize the content of your lessons. Clearly organized and well written notes would be ideal, but often people scribble if they are in a hurry when the teacher is talking quickly or one may accidentally skip parts out because someone interrupts and asks a question and so on.
Therefore, as you are taking notes down, realize that they are not just for the present moment but that later on you will need to refer to them too. This means that the neater they are now, then the easier your job will be when it comes to revision.
Compare and share notes with friends or colleagues as you may both have interpreted issues differently and you could gain something else from listening to their perspective. Recall information out-loud and test yourself by trying to write short notes summarizing what information you have absorbed. Using bullet points can also be a great way to break up more complex information.
2. Organizational Systems
Files, folders, ring binders and organizers as well as diaries can truly help you to do better in your exams. As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’. So much can be achieved through a great organizational system. In addition, finding a revision space that you are comfortable in which has no distractions can also aid your learning. Perhaps your local library can offer this tranquility if you cannot find it at home.
Developing good organizational skills will not only make accessing the notes and content that you need quicker, it will also mean you can categorize your learning and revising into easy and more manageable chunks. In addition, this will mean that you can provide yourself with more structured and disciplined revision because you could say ‘I will just revise section one thoroughly today’, and you will automatically have an end goal and a clearly defined point to reach.
This could help you focus and could motivate you to stay on task for a more concentrated period of time. Highlighter pens, stickers, post-it notes and so on could also help if you are a visual learner. Make posters, draw charts and place them in obvious places such as around your bedroom or living space.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
‘Practice’ when it comes to revision, means putting your knowledge into action. For example, if you are revising for a languages exam then certainly you could practice out loud with friends and classmates, testing each other on your pronunciation and grammar. You could even record your efforts as well on devices such as phones or your laptop to check back over again later. Associating a physical effort with what you are learning can really help the information stick and transfer to your long term memory.
If revising for a driving test, then sit in a chair at home and practice your manoeuvres, pretending to check in the mirrors and adjust the pedals with your feet. This can actually help not only your brain to remember the information but could also assist with what is known as ‘muscle memory’ too. This is where your body remembers the positions it was placed in to achieve a task.
Muscle memory is especially important to musicians. Think of this next time when you watch a violinist physically reach up the fingerboard for a note. Of course years of training have reassured them where that note is positioned and certainly their ears tell them which pitch it is, but part of the process is also muscle memory. You will gradually gain more confidence and trust in yourself through developing this technique with physical actions and in speaking and acting out-loud too.
4. Create a Timetable
A strong and realistic timetable that you can actually stick to is really one of the best kept secrets of great revision. It is not going to be productive to set out five hours of revision per evening when you know that this is unrealistic for you to follow. Expecting too much of yourself in this way will only dishearten you when you cannot achieve the target, so try to think in a realistic manner.
Color-code markings for revision in your diary so that it stands out and reminds you. Setting aside this time for revision will hopefully give you a strong sense of focus to achieve the task. If you have clearer and more manageable revision targets then you are less likely to suffer with exam anxiety or panic about things because having a good structure can provide you with reassurance.
As in point one when taking notes, try to recall the information out loud and test yourself and friends by taking short notes which summarize the information you have absorbed. Invent small quizzes with your friends and make the note taking process more animated and fun through them testing you out loud too.
Once you meet your weekly targets then reward yourself with small rewards such as watching half an hour of television to unwind and relax, or take an evening out with friends at the weekend because you have worked hard and will feel as if you then deserve some down time.
5. Maintaining Focus
It is important that focus is achieved during your revision sessions because this is how you will commit knowledge more readily to your long term memory. Concentration and focus mean you will get more accomplished in a shorter space of time. This is ideally what we all hope to achieve when revising.
One must remember however, that focus needs to go hand in hand with relaxation and downtime as mentioned above in point four. This is because no-one can focus intently on everything all the time and having regular breaks approximately once every forty-five minutes will aid your concentration. If you are working at a computer screen to revise then at least every ten minutes starring off into the distance will help your eyes regain focus and it can reduce eye strain and headaches too. Focus in on your work in short bursts and you will have more productive revision sessions and achieve more in a shorter space of time.
In addition to all of the above techniques, make sure you get lots of sleep and eat a healthy and balanced diet to function at your optimum levels. Try to remember to have breakfast and eat at regular intervals. Remember that the more you revise and focus, the less nervous and anxious you will be on exam day. Breathe slowly and deeply and relax!
Good Luck with your exams.
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Below is a great You Tube video from ‘The Coloured Scribbles’ channel (color spelled with a 'u'), with their top ten tips for revising for exams.