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Our top five revision tips

Don’t end up like the person in the picture, too stressed when trying to revise. Our Head of Study Skills, Mr Faiers, shares his top tips here, to help you work more effectively and to help you to keep calm.

Tip 1: Get your resources organised, and prioritise which topics need revising.

Use revision guides and checklists given by teachers. 

Tip 2: Find a clear, calm space to revise that is free of distractions.

Remember : just the presence of a device reduces learning effectiveness by 20% (Thornton et al, 2014) and listening to music with lyrics reduced performance by 61% (Pernham and Currie, 2014).

Tip 3: When creating revision notes, use an appropriate format, and shrink!

Use an appropriate noting technique e.g. knowledge organiser, timeline, mind-map, ‘Cornell’ notes.

Re-create and reduce the amount of content from textbooks or class notes to reduce ‘cognitive load’ and make the information manageable.

Make notes memorable and different – include diagrams, pictures and use colour.

Don’t spend too long on notes – get on to testing yourself.

Tip 4: The single most effective revision method is ‘retrieval practice’ or testing yourself.

This is testing yourself, so this could be memory tests, flashcard testing, assessment-style questions or  past paper questions.

Realistic practice under a little pressure without notes to help, is important to gradually improve confidence before an assessment.

Don’t just passively read or copy out information!

Tip 5: Spacing and ‘interleaving’ topics improve revision effectiveness.

Spacing is where you spread out revision rather than cram. This involves you starting early, and learning a little information regularly.

Interleaving is when you mix up subjects or topics rather than learning in big blocks. This will feel tough but will improve the amount of knowledge you retain, and is more realistic in terms of how assessments work.

Research shows spacing beats cramming by 25% and interleaving beats blocking by 43% (Rohrer and Taylor, 2007).

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