Revision Techniques

So by now you’ll have read Jacquelyn’s amazing  ‘How To….Revise‘ guide which sets you up perfectly to begin revising (if you haven’t read it yet, click that link, have a cheeky look and then come back here). That guide is great, with loads of useful hints and tips on how to really sink your teeth into some revision.

However, here at Source, we recognise that actually revising is the hardest bit, and as Jacquelyn said, everyone is different. So we’ve decide to bundle together some revision techniques, tried and tested, for you to experiment with. The most important thing to remember is that they won’t all work for you, you need to try a few out before you find one you’re comfortable with. Before you know it, you’ll be a revision guru!

So let’s get started. First thing’s first, download Source’s template Revision Timetable . We really can’t stress enough how important it is to have one of these bad boys sorted. The information won’t go in at all unless you have regular breaks and a bit of structure, so take a look at the example and create one of your own. Breaks are so important – so if there’s a TV programme you just can’t miss (we love a bit of Made in Chelsea on a Monday night), then schedule your revision around that. If you’re playing football on a Tuesday afternoon, don’t feel guilty about taking a work break, just make sure you do your work around it! So pin one timetable up on your wall next to your laptop or near your bed, one in your school or homework diary and one on the fridge so you always know what the plan for the day is and most importantly – stick to it!

When it comes to actually sitting down and learning your stuff, there are certain tools that will help your study no end. Your revision tool kit should contain the following:

  • Post-It notes
  • Highlighters
  • Coloured pens or felt tips
  • Some blank A4 paper
  • Some lined A4 paper
  • Your iPod or CD player
  • Your phone (not to text – you’ll see why in a bit)
  • A nice big desk

It’s a certain combination of these tools that is going to strike gold for you so now choose one of our techniques and give it a go!


The Writing Technique

This technique is a proper old-school one, but a lot of people find it the simplest way of learning their stuff. It is essentially just repetition, but Source have been there and done that and realise how boring it truly is, so we’ve devised a way of spicing it up.

You start by reading your notes, either from your school workbooks, your homework or your textbooks. Have a look at the information you’ve got and read through it making sure you understand it. The next step is to investigate and make sure you understand anything that seems a bit confusing to you – you can’t just learn your work if you don’t understand it, you need to be able to apply your knowledge appropriately to the questions asked in the exam.

Try asking your parents, researching on the internet or asking your teacher to run through it with you after class. Once you’ve got to grips with all this knowledge you need to start writing out notes of relevant information. Just write down all the important stuff that  you need to know. This is the most boring part of this technique, but what you don’t realise is after having already read the stuff, just by writing down your notes you are ALREADY beginning to learn the information – how cool is that! Learning without even trying!

After you’ve written out all your notes – this could be pages and pages worth of stuff so be prepared to take the time – then you need to get out your highlighters. We’re now going to categorise your work. Have a read through your work and try and identify 6 – 8 key categories that you can place the different information into. A category could be an event, a theory, a book, a technique, a person, and all your notes that are relevant to that specific category need to be grouped together. Make a little key on the side of your page – green = category 1, pink = category 2, etc. and then get highlighting! After you’ve categorised your notes they should already by looking less scary. Again, by doing this the information will be subconsciously entering your brains and you’ll be really understanding everything you’re reading.

This next stage is optional – some of us geeks find it essential (essential = it looks pretty and seems like procrastination though it is actually work). Get out your coloured pens and write out your categorised notes, in their categories. So you basically gather all the different bits you’ve highlighted in say green, and then write them out on a new piece of paper in green. You do the same for every category. So your notes should now be colour co-ordinated and categorised – yay!

We then need to condense. This is because, quite frankly, learning one page of notes seems waaay easier than eight massive pages. So this is where you get your creative juices flowing. You can mind map, you can make a poster, you can make a cool table with funky colours – we don’t care. Just get all that information on one page! This might take a few tries until you find a method that suits you, so don’t be scared if you think it’s not working! And then the easy part – you learn. Read this one page every night before you go to bed, on the school bus, on the train to uni, before dinner, when you wake up, in the bath – and before you know it you will know the entire contents of that page word for word!


The Listening Technique

This is where your mobile phone comes in handy. It essentially, involves a lot of listening. So the first stage of this technique is really similar to that of the writing technique – you need to get all your essential information written down. Then, you take your smart phone – if you don’t have a smart phone then you can use a laptop, a computer, a digital recorder or even kick it prehistoric style with a tape recorder – but basically you record yourself saying the information out loud. If you, like some of our Source team, really don’t like listening to the sound of your own voice then you can either bribe a friend with sweets or ask one of your parents really nicely if you can record them. Stage two is to listen to the recordings. Stage three is to listen to the recordings. Stage four is to listen to the recordings… And I’m pretty sure you catch my drift now. Listen to them as much as possible! When you’re at the gym, before bed, on the bus, you will be amazed at how quickly you’re remembering the information!


The Post-It Note Technique

This was briefly mentioned in Jacquelyn’s ‘How To’ guide. You get your notes and gather all the information and highlight key terminology – words you just need to know. Then you write the word and a brief description on a post it note… And you plaster them everywhere. Make sure they’re in places you’ll look every day! The mirror, the fridge, your toothbrush, the shower door, your book, your wardrobe. Take that extra two seconds to read them and before you know it you’ll know what post it note is on the door and what it says before you’ve even got out of bed!


The Association Technique

This is a really simple but effective technique. It takes some planning, but once that’s sorted it is probably the easiest one to get to grips with! Having said that, it only really works when you need to learn a process, or a timeline – great for studying science or history! Think of a routine that you have every day – we would recommend your morning routine. Write it down on a piece of paper. Alarm goes off, get out of bed, put slippers on, go downstairs, go to the bathroom, have breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, do your hair and then leave for school.  You then need to attribute each phase of your routine with a stage of the process. So if you were learning a timeline, your alarm going off would represent the first date, and getting out of bed etc would be the dates after til you reached leaving for school which was the last date you needed to know. Once you’ve figured out what each stage is going to correspond to, you need to walk it through whilst reading over your notes. Don’t worry if it takes you a while to learn them, just keep reading! The aim is that you repeat this routine every time you wake up and then in your exam you’ll be able to relax and think of your morning routine and the complicated names, dates, terms, or whatever it is you’ve learned will be flying out of your head and onto the paper.


So there’s Source’s choice of the top 4 revision techniques. Remember – try them all, maybe you’ll find it’s a combination of two that really work for you. Experiment with your environment too – try listening to music on your iPod, silence, outside if the weather’s nice, at the dining room table, in your room – wherever you find it easiest to concentrate. Just remember to stick to your revision timetable and really put some time into learning your work – as cheesy as it sounds, you only get out what you put in.

Exams are important – they’re definitely not fun, but they are important. So get your heads down and good luck!

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