Human beings naturally tend to remember information at the beginning and the end of chunks. It’s the bit in the middle that can sometimes be a bit murky. So try tackling the tricky bits at the beginning or the end of your revision session. You could also write them at the beginning of your notes or at the end of your chunk of notes.
I know you’re busy. I know you’ve got full-time jobs, commitments to colleagues, clients and families, so it’s vitally important that you organise yourself efficiently so that you only do each job once, and don’t find yourself having to do things over and over because you can’t remember if you’ve done them or not.
After your initial revision session with that new chunk of information, when you revisit your notes, (and that will be one small chunk at a time of course, of 7 or fewer bits of information) you’ll be looking at the question on the back of your notes, because you will have stored your notes in your folder with the question side up.
After that initial session, when you revisit your notes, the best way to test yourself is to close your eyes and see your notes in your mind’s eye. First, answer the question and THEN turn over the page and check you’ve remembered all of your revision notes.
Many people look at their notes first and then try to recall them. The problem with this is that you’re only testing your short-term memory and that won’t help you in the exam!
Seeing your notes in your mind, answering the question out loud and drawing it in the air, and only then turning the page over to check your notes, means you are of course using more of your brain to do all that. You can do this very quickly and each chunk can be checked in a jiffy. Which leaves plenty of time to learn the new stuff and move through your course manual quite rapidly.
You probably have a very good idea by now of what your learning preferences are, what brain type you are, how you prefer to process, store and retrieve information. As you develop your revision style you will be honing your study skills according to how your brain works best, because each time you test yourself on your revision you’ll be giving yourself feedback on how well your revision is going.
Incidentally, remember how important water is. Stay hydrated. Only 3% dehydration makes your brain 20% less efficient. Can you believe that? And that happens long before you’re gagging for a cup of tea. So carry a bottle of water around with you and keep taking sips, keep your brain working well.
Remember, the human brain developed on the move! Movement was natural and normal for our roaming ancestors. Physiologically we are pretty much the same as they were. If it was normal and natural to do so much exercise in those days, it must be good for us now too, surely?
Well, yes, it turns out that the most accurate predictor of whether somebody will remain mentally alert well into later life, or whether they will decline as the years go by, is how active they are. Older people with an active lifestyle easily outperform the couch potato in tests measuring long-term memory, reasoning, attention span, and solving new problems; using for example, powers of reasoning and abstraction, improvising and manipulating learned information from previous experiences.
Their improved cardiovascular fitness also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Don’t panic! If you’ve been a couch potato all your life, it’s not too late to make improvements. Get moving now and you’ll get the benefits straight away.
Any movement is better for your brain than none, and too much exercise – the sort that leaves you exhausted – is bad your brain. So you don’t have to overdo it. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. 30 min of aerobic activity just 2 or 3 times a week is just right, and maybe a session or two of weight bearing exercise. So exercise turns out to be vitally important when it comes to revising for exams.
It might be time for you to revisit your eBook and the training videos, just to remind yourself of the things that you need to do to make your revision even more effective. It covers what you need to know about revising that will give you a really chance of getting through your work quickly and efficiently, remembering it easily and passing your exams first time. So now it’s up to you to implement it.