Revision Secrets - Turbocharge your revision

Revision Secrets - Turbocharge your revision

Mind Mapping

Exam performance is often down to how much you can remember. If you have a good memory, it's more likely you will perform well.

This is a tip to help organise your revision notes and improve your memory.

When you work through a topic, map it out on a large piece of paper and connect the different sections of information. This is often called a “mind-map”. The mind map will allow you will see how all the information connects together. Your brain is much more likely to store it in your memory that way, because visual patterns are much easier to remember than just text.

Try to write the mind-map with a pen and paper. You can use software, but the action of writing and drawing your mind-map will help you remember the key points.

  1. Write the subject you want to revise in the middle of a piece of plain paper.
  2. Create branches or lines from this word and create new key words for each new fact, concept or idea.
  3. Build on the map by adding words, phrases and pictures.
  4. Use colour to highlight key areas – this helps stimulate your brain and remember information.

Use your super brain

The brain is a bit like a super computer and in addition to what you are focusing on right now, there is also a lot of other information going into your brain.

Take advantage of this during your revision. Fill your living space with key revision notes: posters, diagrams, keywords so when your mind wanders you will see key information and this will sink in subconsciously. You will be revising without even knowing it!

The mind is divided into the conscious mind (about 12%) and the subconscious (about 88%). The conscious mind is our ‘doing’ mind, which we use to make decisions. Whilst our subconscious mind stores our memory, beliefs, personality, habits, etc. So the more you can feed the subconscious mind with your revision, the more you will take in and remember!

Examples of exactly what to do: 

  1. Write post-it notes and cover your wall and other places where spend time
  2. Play audio revision material in the background or while you sleep
  3. Plan a Poster on a topic (just use an A4 sheet) with diagrams, keywords and colour coding. (See mind-maps)


It's a great feeling in any performance, such as sport, when you get into a flow-state. This is when everything seems effortless and you are ‘in the zone’.  You are living in the moment, completely absorbed in the present activity. Time seems to fall away.

Positive psychologist “Mihály Csíkszentmihályi” describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

The best way to get into a flow-state before you start revising or begin an exam is to try and start with an easy task or question and complete it quickly and confidently before moving onto the harder items.

This will help you get into that flow-state to build the momentum and move forward.

Breaking up your revision

It may sound obvious but many people often make this mistake!

Many students think they can revise for three hours straight and cram in all the information. This will simply not work. You will get bored and frustrated and your brain will not be able to process all that information! The most effective way is to revise regularly and often.

The best way is to break up your revision time into small chunks of 20 minute work sessions, with ten minutes break. That way your brain has been given the space to absorb the information, keep you interested and prevent boredom.

Scientists have been claiming continuously for over 30 years that taking breaks improves your memory, as we remember more from the beginning and end of any learning session.
Avoid Distractions

In the modern world we are surrounded by mobile phones, social media, internet and our friends wanting us to go out and do more interesting things than revising. 

The only way to avoid this is to simply remove these distractions. Unplug your computer and turn off the smartphone.  Otherwise you might find yourself quickly checking Facebook and before you know it, hours have passed by.

Mixing work and play does not work. You need to separate the two and build up your work session from 10 to 20 minutes or more without distractions.

Take ten minute breaks if you must Tweet or look on Facebook, but keep it to 10 minutes or less. The best breaks would be to go out of your work environment, away from computers and notepads.


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