1. Listen to classical music
Cast your One Direction CDs aside, it’s time to go classical.
Believe it or not, classical music has been shown to aid memory and fact recall because of the stimulation of nerve activity due to the complexity of the music.
The phenomenon even has its own name – ‘The Mozart Effect’. Who knew?!
2. Teach someone else
While the last thing you probably want to do is waste your precious revision time teaching someone else, sharing your knowledge with a friend can actually aid your revision efforts.
It not only reaffirms and consolidates your knowledge, but allows you to identify any of your lingering knowledge gaps.
3. Reorganise information
Frustratingly, trying to remember something has been shown to have almost no effect on whether you actually remember it – so just reading through your notes is a waste of your time (unless you’re lucky enough to have a genuine photographic memory).
What does work for us mere mortals is reorganising information in some way – whether that’s by condensing it, thinking about how what you’re reading relates to other topics, or answering practice questions.
This ‘depth of processing’ ensures info gets lodged in your memory. Clever, eh?
4. Change your strategy
Don’t just revise in the same way you’ve always done, and don’t just revise in a way that works wonders for your friend.
Everyone’s brain works in a slightly different way; try out several different techniques and do whatever seems to work for you.
5. Get colourful
Time to get your gel pens and highlighters out!
Writing notes in colour has been shown to improve your ability to take in information by allowing you to associate certain topics and words with different colours.
6. Recite your revision
While you probably can’t get away with it in the library (well, without getting evils from hundreds of sleep-deprived revision zombies), reciting your notes is something you should try.
Taking in information with a range of different senses has been shown to aid memory-making.
To make the most of reciting information, record your ramblings and listen to them on your IPod when you’re on the move – that way you’ve used two different senses to soak up the info.
7. Follow in the footsteps of Mr Buzan
Popular psychology author, Tony Buzan (who also invented the mind map), devised a revision cycle in the ‘70s which is a tried and tested favourite.
The cycle involves revising and then testing yourself with increasingly large gaps between testing sessions, from a couple of hours, to a couple of days, to a couple of weeks.
The idea is based on the idea that your mind needs time to let information ‘sink in’ (which is why last-minute cramming doesn’t work for everyone – sorry to break it to you!).
Yes this tip requires a little forward planning, but it can make a big difference to your exam success.
8. Understand, then remember
Never try to revise topics that you don’t understand – it won’t work.
You’ll remember the odd phrases but no arguments, theories or how sub topics interlink – and these things will get you the highest marks.
Prioritise understanding topics and how they relate to other things you’ll be tested on before you attempt to remember them.
Force yourself to write revision notes in your own words to be sure that you really understand what you’re writing about.
9. Play musical chairs
Well not literally (that would be absurd); but rather than hiding away in your dingy revision pit of a room for weeks on end, change the location you revise in – it aids memory retention, and is a nice stress-buster to boot.
Decamp to your local library/café/park for a change of scenery.
10. Ration your technology use
If you find yourself being distracted by the wonders of the internet, Chrome’s StayFocusd and Facebook Nanny can work wonders – trust us!
If your phone is your biggest vice and you have £30 to spare, consider getting yourself a kSafe – essentially it’s a lockable cookie (or phone) jar which will only open after a set amount of time. Infuriating, but we sure as heck want one!
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