It’s useful to know there are two easy things to improve your revision, because in revision sessions, just as in other life experiences, most of us tend to do what we know. And it either works sufficiently for our purposes, or it doesn’t.
If on some level it works well enough, we keep doing it!
And if it doesn’t, unfortunately, what most of us tend to do is…
Keep doing it!
Only, the thing that we’re doing that doesn’t work, we do even harder!
Until, inevitably we conclude that we are not up to the job and that there’s something wrong with us!
And yet, whether you’re talking about revision or about other areas of our lives, the results we achieve are directly related to what we do.
Do something different and you get a different result.
Bear that in mind when you consider these two easy things to improve your revision and retention of information you learn.
1. Make your mark!
A lot of people make the mistake of believing that simply reading information is enough to retain that information. And yet you know the difference yourself, when you’ve got to the supermarket intending to buy the week’s shopping, only to discover you don’t have your shopping list with you…
Because even when you haven’t deliberately tried to learn the items on that shopping list, the mere fact that your brain had to actually process the information in order to create your list, gives you a much better chance of remembering most of those items now that you’re stuck in the supermarket without it.
So when you’re revising – make notes.
2. Do sweat the small stuff!
Many people think they ‘know’ something because they’ve just read it, but if you were to ask them to tell you what they had just read, most people would struggle to remember all the important details.
If on the other hand, before they read that information, they are told that they will be tested on it, guess what happens…
They remember more of it.
Why might that be, do you think?
Neuroscientists believe that knowing you’ll be tested wakes you up, and puts a bit of pressure on you so that you make more effort. And effort is indeed the key. The harder you work to get something into your head, the longer it will stay there.
Of course you need to read the information you intend to learn, but that should only be about 20% of your time. The remaining 80% of time should be spent actively manipulating that information, and representing that information somehow in your own way. Often this will be in written note form.
And test yourself afterwards. Have you really learnt and understood the information and you’ve just worked with?
Do these two easy things to improve your revision and don’t be fooled!