Revision advice

In the last 14 years of teaching Psychology, I have seen a multitude of revision techniques used by students – note making, highlighting, flash cards, re writing notes, posters and other various creative ways of revising. However, the students who spend their time on these techniques alone, are often the most hard working students and the most disappointed when they get results for assessments. If you want to have a good work – life balance and to make your revision really ‘stick’ then you MUST focus on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to revising. For example:

  1. Rather than write drafts upon drafts of essays, it will be more worthwhile to write an essay, make an essay plan, learn the essay plan and then see if you can REWRITEthe essay. This method ensures that you are able to retrieve the information in the order you want it!
  2. Instead of making flashcards that you use repeatedly (these are very valuable, but its what you do with them that counts!) try and make assessments, multiple choice quizzes and other methods of checking learning and testing your peers. After all, if you cannot teach or assess someone else, then you have not really learned the information yourself
  3. Use past papers: there is no point doing a whole compilation of past papers and a) never checking to see if you answered them right or b) handing them all in to be marked. You are better off doing a few questions, and getting feedback – REGULARLY. Imagine doing a whole compilation of past paper questions and realising a mistake you made in Q1 has been made all the way to Q20!
  4. Create mindmaps – if you are going to make mindmaps, the key thing is to NOT turn a mindmap (a summary of notes) into an essay squeezed onto an A3 sheet of paper. Colour co-ordinate your notes on the mind map (for example, have all A01 description in one colour, and all A03 evaluation in another). If you make these lovely, organised mindmaps – then you are finished PREPARING to use them. Making them is good, but using them is where the revision comes in. Use your mindmaps to assess your recall; redo the mindmap and compare it to the original; use it as prompts to give a verbal explanation of a theory, for example. Whatever you do, avoid making mindmaps and spending all of your time on the artistry! No one will care how creative you are in the exam – sorry!
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