Weird tips to help you remember what you revise

Scented candles to aid revision
These seven tips for how to remember revision will make revising more fun and help material stand out in your mind.

Studying hard but struggling to remember what you’ve learned? Wondering how to make revision fun? If you’re bored of standard revision methods, inject some fun back into the process with these out-of-the-box alternatives. Our list of weird revision tips will improve your memory and get those neurons firing.

1. Go Post-it note manic

Having coloured Post-it notes everywhere helps you immerse yourself in revision. You firstly write down some information on a note, such as a physics equation or a history fact; ideally this should be something that can fit on the small space. Do this over and over again until you have a sizeable wodge. Then take all these different notes and stick them about your house. You can put them on cupboard doors, mirrors, windows and the fridge. When you next reach for a choccy digestive you’ll be reminded of a scrap of information.

2. Study with aromas

Stimulating your sense of smell is supposed to improve your memory. Research by Northumbria University found that the scent of rosemary contributed to a 5-7% boost in memory capability; the effect of inhalation is an increase of electrical activity in the brain. It is difficult to know exactly how tangibly beneficial the scent is, but where’s the harm in trying it out? Use rosemary-scented incense, diffusers and candles to excite your olfactory organs. The worst outcome is that your room will be pleasantly fragrant.

3. Act topics out

This tip is about kinaesthetic learning, which is for people who prefer to engage both their body and mind when studying. For example, a kinaesthetic learner might pace around the room while they read, or go for a wander to get those creative juices flowing. If you want to try this kind of learning out, you can try gesticulating while you read, as if you’re rehearsing a presentation. You can also manipulate small household objects to perform battle scenes from history for learning particular military tactics.

4. Revise with silly metaphors

Facts tend to stick out in your mind if you make them silly. One way of doing this is by using mnemonics. There is, for instance, the example of ‘Richard of York gave battle in vain’ to remember the sequences of colours in a rainbow as ‘red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet’. In addition, you can use images as emblems. For example, if you need to recall the date of the Spanish Armada, you can draw out 1588 as ‘15’ with two 8-shaped sailboats. You could also remember the name ‘Katherine Swynford’, who was an ancestor of Henry VII, by drawing a pig (ie swine) next to a river (ie ford). Another memory technique is to make sound associations. For example, to remember ‘8x8=64’ you can turn it into the sentence ‘I ate and I ate until I was sick on the floor’ because they sound similar – how delicious!

5. Record your voice

Listening to a recording of your notes or an essay can aid memory. There are portable digital recorders available that can be plugged into a computer. It can also work the other way: if you need to alleviate writer’s block while writing essay plans, then dictating and then transcribing is a viable option. You could make facts stand out by adding an accent to them or transforming them into a poem. This will make your notes much more vibrant and engaging.

6. Try teaching

Explaining concepts to another person is a way to ensure you understand them yourself. If you collect your notes and put them on a PowerPoint, then you can present them to your friends, family or even an audience of Beanie Babies. This kind of role reversal enables you to switch from passively absorbing information to actively distributing it. You may even realise you know more than you thought. After the presentation, if your ‘pupils’ ask on-the-spot questions, then you can test your confidence in certain areas and highlight what you need to brush up on.

7. Experiment with visual revision techniques

Laboriously scrawling notes in black pen is not sustainable. To introduce some variety, why not try using mind maps? You can make a mind map (aka spider diagram) with a blank piece of A4. Start by writing your topic title in the centre and then draws lines outward going into subtopics. For instance, if you had a mind map on ‘Plants’ you could have a line going to ‘Structure’ and then to ‘Palisade cells’ with an annotated image. By branching out in this way you can unite all the separate pieces knowledge onto a single page.

Another option to explore is using coloured overlays, which are thin pieces of acetate that you can place over text. These are helpful if you struggle to focus on words after a prolonged period of time. For computer reading, try installing a chrome extension, such as ‘Beeline Reader’, that shifts the font colour at the end of lines. This is designed to help people who struggle scanning walls of text.

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