Why you are wasting your time revising (and how not to.)

When I ask students how they study material for tests and exams, the most common answer I get it is ‘I read over it.’  This is not revising, it’s reading, and that’s if you can actually stay focused/ awake while doing it.  Studies have show that this method is ineffective and does not improve you understanding or help you to remember facts and figures.


So how should you study?  

Research shows that shorter, repeated sessions give better results.  Your method of study is vital.  Here are 3 of my favourite, proven effective methods.

  1. Flash cards.

An oldie but a goody! To make a flash card you write, for example, a term on one side and the definition on another.  When making flashcards with students I encourage them to use coloured paper and pens, draw images and use numbering.  This will help your memory out as it gives it a visual to associate with what you are trying to learn.  If you are inseparable from your phone you can also use apps such as AnkiApp and Chegg flashcards, which have really clever ways of sequencing your information.

When you go through your flashcards have 3 piles.  The first is a pile which, when testing yourself, you remembered easily; the next is a pile you got but had to think a bit, and the third is the pile you couldn’t remember or only got partially correct.  Put the first pile aside and continue with the exercise until you have no cards left.  You are done for that session.  Make sure you return to them within 3 days to commit the information to your long term memory.

2. Traffic lights

This has a similar premise to flashcards in that you only go over the information you need to repeatedly.  Write out everything you need to know and then go through it with 3 pens- one red, one green and one orange/ yellow.    Highlight or underline using the following key.

Red- I don’t understand this/ can’t remember it

Orange- I partially understand/ remember this

Green- I totally have this mastered!

Write out only the orange and red green parts again.  Refer to any text books/ notes/ internet until you understand the red sections better.  Now go through with your pens again using the same traffic light method.  Repeat until all your information is in green.

3.Voice recording

If you can stand to hear your own voice, record information you need to memorise and play repeatedly to yourself.  You can also ask yourself questions and leave gaps for responses!

Have your own great way of studying?  Had success with one of the above methods?> Share it in the comments below!


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