What is Revision?
Revision literally means ‘re-vision’ – looking at something again, writing it again and revisiting the learning again until you have attained mastery of that knowledge – in your own terms in preparation for tests, projects, and especially exams. Yet this process is not merely ‘looking’ at notes, but reworking, reducing, and reforming those notes into accessible knowledge by creative methods that have meaning for your learning style. The process of revision is active, purposeful, focused and is highly effective.
If you’re determined to the highest grade possible, you may be searching for better ways to revise (study) for your exams to make sure you get there. Nothing beats hard work, especially when it comes to studying, but there are ways you can guide your brain to remember information easier, which supports your ability to learn.
We have gathered the best revision techniques from past B.H.S. students who have achieved top class results to help you understand how you can learn better to improve your grades.
- Create a Revision Timetable
Building a revision timetable can add structure to your revision and help you identify which subjects you need to prioritize to get better results. Creating a revision timetable is a great way to organize your study time, plus it also helps boost your motivation to revise for your tests and exams. Begin by allocating the 168 hours a week you have to work with, then by realizing that in the long-term you will be preparing for each subject, bit-by-bit, by consolidating your notes, making web diagrams, cue cards.
- Take Regular Study Breaks
Do you feel stressed, tired and that no new information is entering your head? There is no point forcing yourself to study for hours upon hours as this will not result in a positive outcome. Taking regular study breaks and exercising is proven to engaging your brain in studying and improve your exam performance in the long-run. Your brain can only absorb, retain, and recall information in small, regular doses. Hence why your homework every night must include 20-30 minutes with your Cornell Notes – whether you have an assignment the next day or not.
- Use Mind Maps to Connect Ideas
If you find it difficult to remember tons of new Cornell study notes, Mind Maps may be the key to improving your memory. The theory behind mind mapping explains that making associations by connecting ideas helps you to memorize information easier and quicker. Mind Mapping has many other benefits for students who have identified themselves as visual and/or kinesthetic learners. This revision concept aids in reducing and reforming study notes into meaningful diagrams you have generated yourself. By physically creating such diagrams you increase your ability to recall information when writing responses to test questions.
- Understand Your Learning Style
Everyone thinks that there is a best way to study but the reality is that each person is different. Once you understand whether you are a visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic learner, then remembering and recalling new information will become much easier. Practice will also tell you if you work better studying during the night or in the morning/daytime. Revision is highly effective because it is purposefully personalized to complement your particular learning style.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the biggest recommendations that past B.H.S. students recommend is to do as many practice tests/exams as you can. Practicing past tests will help you get familiar with the exam format, question style, time pressure and overall improve your ability to retrieve information quicker. Self-testing is the key to developing metacognitive skills (“thinking about thinking”) which are very important in aiding your memory to recall information. There are no quick and easy ways to master knowledge; this is a result of practicing writing out responses to questions or solving problems until it is almost second nature.
- Collaborate with Classmates
If you find your coursework to be too much, why not divide the course study notes between trustworthy classmates and share your notes with each other. This will reduce the amount of workload you need to do to prepare for your tests and exams plus you will gain an insight into how other students learn. Just receiving notes from a classmate will not guarantee learning that information; however, it will provide a more accessible start for your revision of those notes into knowledge meaningful to your learning style.
- Variety is the Spice of Life!
Mix up your study habits and methods by listening to podcasts, watching videos or documentaries, moving to new study area or even something as simple as using different colors for your study notes.
This is different to the other revision tips mentioned here as it encourages you to try a few different things to see what fits for you. Your brain will recall where you were or how you revised for a topic which will help you remember more information. There are no limits to the creativity and innovation you can apply to the process of revision.
- Adapt for Different Subjects
It may seem obvious but many students try to study for different subjects using the same study methods. Your revision should take account of the difference between your subjects and the challenges they represent. Ideally, all subjects expect an understanding of theory through specialized terminology which is applied to solve problems. While you may not consider a question in History class a ‘problem’ to solve, that question may be asking you about causation, whereupon you must ‘solve’ the ‘problem’ of why an event happened or why it was important.
For example, flashcards are an ideal study aid to help you prepare for a Spanish, French, Latin because of the importance of understanding vocabulary – its meaning and context. A subject such as Science where you need to remember key definitions, may also require the use of flashcards for the specialized terminology, yet may also require you to explain a process – therefore you will need to employ a Mind Map. An online quiz (textbook or Khan Academy) is a great way to self-test your Math skills. You would benefit from using a series of flashcards with the various formulae important to Geometry, so that you can become more familiar with them.
Once you understand that your subjects need to be approached differently, there is no stopping your creativity and innovation in designing a revision scheme tailored to your learning style.
Spider (Web) diagrams
After initially recording your notes using the Cornell Method, there are many different ways of revising your notes. Obviously, you can just copy them out, in shortened form, from your binder – perhaps highlighting the important parts, or different topics, in different colors. The key is to actively transfer these notes in a reduced form into another meaningful style. One way of doing so is to appreciate the order and flow of your initial recording of class notes by recreating this sequence in a spider diagram. For the visual learner this takes the lines of notes and reproduces them in a picture centered upon a main topic something like a spider’s web.
Understand before you revise
Make sure you understand something before you start revising it; otherwise you risk learning something that’s not correct. The best way to do this is to understand new information as you go along. You’ll know from your homework whether you have got to grips with a subject. If you haven’t, then ask the teacher, or a friend who does understand the subject (or go to a N.H.S. Tutor) and get clear in your mind what you haven’t been able to understand.
Revision need not be daunting. Revision needs to be efficient and effective – done with attention and focus so that you save time rather than squander time. Some find it boring and tedious, and resent having to set aside long swathes of time at a desk when there are more exciting things to be doing. One of the keys to effective revision is to make sure that you have enough breaks from revision, to make sure that you do get to do those exciting things.
Think about what’s possible for you. Think what’s realistic, without being a slave-driver or overly lenient. Could you manage six hours a day? No? Four or five hours? If you start at 10 o’clock, you can do two and a half hours before lunch, and then two and a half hours in either the afternoon or the evening – leaving the rest of the evening or the afternoon free.
And if you don’t normally get out of bed that early during vacations (a.k.a., ‘study opportunities’), try and make a point of doing so. Have a lie in for the first day or two, but then let the discipline kick in, and make sure you get up in time to get down to work at 10am. Write it on your timetable, to help you stick to it.
Decorate your walls
Flashcards can come in handy for revision as well. Cut up a piece of stiff paper or thin card into bite-size chunks (you can get about 18 pieces out of a sheet of paper). Now you can write down anything you need to remember particularly: this might be equations, or short sentences, or graphs, or diagrams. Read through them and test yourself. Stick the most important ones on your walls, so you see them every time you are in your room. It might even get to the point where you associate, say, your cupboard door with Newton’s First Law of Motion. Or put up a colored representation of the Periodic Table on your wall.
Use Study Guides or make them!
Some teachers provide study guides – some do not. If you receive one then master the gift you have been given. For the most part you should be able to make your own study guide based upon past homework, quizzes, and tests. Ultimately, that is what your revision is meant to achieve: a thorough preview of the next test or exam. If you have been presented with a study guide –great, but you still have to use it as a revision guide; it doesn’t do the studying for you.
If there’s a tame person in your household whom you can call on to test you, that’s great. It doesn’t mean they have to concentrate on you entirely – testing can be done while you are both clearing the table, emptying the dishwasher, cooking the supper or walking the dog. If there’s no such person available, then test yourself, by saying things over to yourself. Talking to yourself isn’t always a sign of madness: it can be the sign of a good reviser too. This is the process of metacognition, by keeping resident in your mind that which you need to know, and continually ‘thinking about thinking’ about it in different ways. In other words, being conversant with the knowledge.