Finding revision techniques that work for you can be a real challenge. I know that it took me a while to really figure out what worked for me. Teachers forcing me to create mindmaps in lessons was not effective, but that doesn’t mean mindmaps won’t be useful for you – it depends on what kind of learner you are. It’s all about trial and error. Some of these methods may be perfect for you, some of them may not work at all – the only way to find out what’s right is to give it a go.
Do you remember acronyms? Those acrostic poem things you did at primary school? This was something I discovered whilst revising for my Religious Education GCSE. Turns out you needed to be able to remember a lot of different quotes for lots of different topics.
I would look at a long quote and pick out a keyword (sometimes called a trigger word). Then I’d take the first letter of all of my keywords and turn them into an acronym. For example, in my Politics AS exam I had to remember the functions of the Cabinet which were: to settle any disagreements, to offer expertise, to manage any crises, to collectively decide on policy, to implement policy, to block any unwise policy and to support policy. So here, I’d highlight ‘disagreements’, ‘expertise’, ‘crises’, ‘decide’, ‘implement’, ‘block’ and ‘support’.
That would then be turned into DEC DIBS:
In this case, I’d imagine Dec from Ant and Dec eating a Dib Dab. Poof. It works. A much simpler way of remembering a long list of statements.
In my RE exam, as soon as the examiner said go I would open my answer booklet and write down all the letters of my acronyms. This meant instead of having to pause and rack my brain for the quotes I needed, I could just look at my acronym and know exactly what I had to write and how I’d structure my answer. Simples.
- Drawing Pictures
I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not an artist, however, I’m a bit of a visual learner and so drawing stupid pictures can be super helpful when revising and trying to remember arguments or points. Whether it be a masterpiece or a stickman (the latter is more my forte) pictures can be great.
A way I utilise pictures is bullet pointing all the for and against points of an argument and then I’ll create a little doodle for each point – honestly, the weirder the picture, the better. I would advise to not get too carried away; don’t start thinking about shading or the images actually looking good. Make sure you aren’t just procrastinating and wasting precious revision time.
“Why Should MPs vote with their party?” One of my arguments was they’re elected on a party label, and so I drew a little name tag that said: “Hi, My Name Is: Tory”. Literally, the weirdest thing ever but it stuck. For the point of party ambition, I drew a little snake (because the main trait of Slytherins in Harry Potter is ambition… I know, it seems far-fetched but I’m a Slytherin and huge HP fan so I remembered the point).
I’ll insert some of my masterpieces below so you can see just how pathetic the illustrations can be.
This method was brought to my attention by my secondary school and it reallllly worked for me. The concept is that you walk through your house (or school, or where you work, or anywhere else that you know well) and in each room, something bizarre is happening that makes you remember a point.
Maybe inside your living room there is a huge grandfather clock to remind you that The House of Lords is out-of-touch and traditionalist. Then perhaps you walk into your kitchen and see people arguing reminding you that if The House of Lords and The House of Commons had equal power there would be constant arguing resulting in ‘deadlock’.
I used this method for 5 different arguments in the same exam. I walked through my house once, through college 4 different ways, through my local theatre and through the staff room where I work down onto the shop floor. If you can close your eyes and visualise your route then you already have the key points of a perfect essay plan in your head.
These are just a few of the methods I’ve used in my revision, I’d be here forever if I revealed all of my secrets! Stay tuned to this blog for more tricks and tips in the future.
Do you have any revision tips that you swear by? What kind of learner are you? Let me know if any of these techniques work for you!