Revision and exam help

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How to make the most of your memory

  • Most importantly, allow enough time to revise effectively. So start early.
  • Writing out notes and summaries yourself helps your memory. Do not just read someone else's summaries.
  • Go over the notes several times to help improve your recall of information.
  • Make it an active process rather than a passive one. Do something with the information rather than just read it through. Annotate, condense it further, draw summary diagrams, sketch graphs, highlight, make notes in the margin, put in references to pages in the textbook, make spider diagrams or anything that gets you to process the information at different levels in your brain.
  • Visual information can be very powerful. Using different colours can increase the effect.
  • Try to think of links between topics to strengthen your memory through association.
  • If you own the textbook or have your own revision guide, personalise it with your own notes or sketches in the margins, underline sections, use highlighter pens etc.
  • Revise in small chunks. Settle into work in the first few minutes by scanning over what you are going to study, then concentrate for between 30 to 60 minutes. Take a short 5 or 10 minute break as soon as your concentration wonders.
  • A change of topic or subject can reinvigorate your brain. Plan your revision time accordingly rather than aim to study a single topic for several hours.
  • Recall regularly to strengthen your memories. Recall what you have tried to learn at the end of a session, at the end of a day, after a week and then regularly after that.
  • Look after yourself. Stay hydrated with water or simple drinks, keep up any sport or exercise you do, get fresh air and plenty of sleep. Have regular meals rather than sugary snacks that cause a sugar "high" then a loss of concentration. Obviously alcohol or drugs are very detrimental to your memory.
  • In particular avoid too much coffee or caffeine products. A little can increase alertness but overdoing it can cause anxiety, insomnia and poorer concentration after the initial boost.
  • Keep to a regular daily rhythm. Study most at the time of day that suits you.
  • Have moments of reflection to realise what you have achieved. Be positive about the small steps of progress that you are making and don't get overwhelmed by what you still have to do. Keep working at it.
  • At some point you should realise that everything makes more sense, the pieces of the jigsaw are fitting together.then you are well on your way to success!