How to revise

Summing up

when you've finished this page you will be able to...


Your brain doesn't remember by 'writing notes'.

Spend a few minutes thinking about holidays you have been on. As these thoughts come to mind, do you think of all your holidays in a neat, ordered, chronological fashion? Or do the different holidays, people, events and places pop up in your mind randomly?

Most people will experience a more 'random' recollection of holiday memories. Each memory will trigger more memories, which in turn will trigger even more memories, perhaps of events that you haven't thought about for years. I'm sure if you spent a few more minutes thinking about the various holidays you have been on, you would have enough information to write a long account of these. And all without the help of notes...

So writing your notes out repeatedly won't help you remember them!

It is important to remember that copying out your notes over and over again will not help you to understand or remember information. There are much better ways to ensure that what you are trying to learn will stay in your long term memory.

Summarise what you need to know.

When you were thinking about your holidays, you probably won't have been able to recall every single word of every conversation you had. It is more likely that you remembered chunks of information about the important places, people and events. This is what you need to do for revision. Instead of trying to remember every single word from a textbook, you need to remember the main ideas and concepts. You can then put these ideas together to answer a question in an exam.

So, we know that our minds do not think about information as pages and pages of written notes. Instead, ideas, facts and concepts are stored as chunks of information, which is linked to other chunks of information. So how do we make sure that we revise in a way that our brains understand? One way to help this process is by summarising the information you have to learn. This will help to ensure you understand the information you are revising.

Activity: summarising the information you are revising

1. Layout the information for the subject or topic that you need to revise today.

2. As you work through your notes, instead of simply writing them out, summarise the information into sentences or a short paragraph using your own words.

Recommended Further Reading

When you come to cover this topic again, you can summarise each paragraph even further, consolidating your knowledge and making sure you revise the important information.

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