Don’t leave everything until the last minute! Trying to stuff your brain full of information immediately before an exam is the worst way to revise.
Cramming – the practice of working intensively to absorb large volumes of informational material in short amounts of time- is the worst strategy for learning as it does not allow time for the brain to process the information.
Don’t use the following revision techniques as they appear to have very little impact on learning. Source
- Highlighting texts
- Summarising text
Rereading is time consuming, doesn’t result in durable memory and it often involves self-deception, as growing familiarity with the text comes to feel like in-depth knowledge of the content. You can’t embed something in memory simply by rereading it over and over. ‘ Source
Don’t learn from the book or the teacher’s notes. Make your own handwriting notes.
‘..there is something about typing that leads to mindless processing. Handwritten notes involve more thought, re-framing, and re-organization, all of which promote better understanding and retention. The manual act of handwriting requires more engagement with the subject matter. Finally, handwritten notes capitalize on the use of drawings and of personalized spatial layout of the notes. Memorization involves not only what the information is, but where it is spatially located.’ Source
Don’t rely on someone else’s notes, you may not understand everything that they write down and you’ll learn the best by making your own notes.
Two strategies — practice testing and spaced practice- have been shown to have the highest impact in terms of learning.
1-Keep testing yourself: Practice self-quizzing
– by reciting new material aloud from memory or trying to tell a friend about it.
– by creating flashcards, with questions on one side and answers on the other.
– by answering questions from past exam papers and check your answers by using the mark scheme of the exam board.
‘Students who don’t quiz themselves tend to overestimate how well they have mastered class material’ Source
Retrieving knowledge from memory is the study strategy which has been shown to have the highest impact on long-term learning .
2- Spaced learning
What does that mean? Spaced practice means studying information more than once leaving time between practice sessions. Source
‘When learning new material or new skills, spacing the learning episodes over large periods of time will improve the long-term retention of the material or skills. Cramming (or massed practice) will enable a student to perform well on an exam hours later, but unfortunately most of that information will be forgotten rapidly.’ Robert Bjork.
Watch the video:Robert Bjork – spacing improves long-term retention
A third strategy is to interleave the study of different but related topics.
What does this mean? Study more than one topic at a time.
When you are revising a subject, the temptation is to use ‘blocked pratice‘. or focusing on one large topic at a time, e.g. all the AS topic on rivers.
However, research has shown that the long-term effects of the interleaved approach, where multiple topics are revised mixed together, are much more beneficial than blocked practice.
Watch the video: Robert Bjork – the benefits of interleaving practice
1- “Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology,” Dunlosky, K. A. Rawson, E. J. Marsh, M. J. Nathan, D. T. Willingham.
Download the report: Improving Students Learning-2013-Dunlosky-
2- Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
3- Supporting Learning Through Effective Revision Techniques
4- Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab
5- Squaring the circle: can learning be easy and hard?
6- Download: The best pathways to knowledge BY JOHN DUNLOSKY, KATHERINE A. RAWSON, ELIZABETH