There are a few musts for revision that we all agree on; doing past papers, making a study timetable, exercise, that kind of thing. And don’t get me wrong – they’re super important. But now, we’re going to stray off the beaten path a little and take a look at some revision tactics that are a little more unorthodox, but which you might be surprised to find are highly effective.
Tip 1: Act it out
Imagine you’re trying to learn some key facts from a major historical battle. Why not cast yourself as a soldier, dive right into the trenches, and act out the very info you’re trying to remember? Yes, you’re going to feel a bit silly, but in the privacy of your own room, you’re free to play any role you wish.
Remember, the aim of the game of a lot of revision is being able to effectively recall information. It seems to me that being able to remember the time you became that information will make that kind of recall a whole lot easier. At the very least, it might put a smile on your face in the exam when you think back to your great acting skills 🤩.
Tip 2: Sing/rap what you’re trying to memorise
This one’s similar to the last, but this time you’re more of a musician than an actor. Take a dense piece of information you’re trying to memorise and start to repeat it back to a beat of your choosing as if it were the sickest rap you know. Or, if you’re feeling extra brave, bring a little melody in and sing those words out loud.
You will be amazed at how much easier it becomes to remember. Putting memorised passages into a rhythm of your own choosing – or even changing the lyrics of one of your favourite songs into a complex Chemistry formula – makes it a lot more memorable. Just make sure not to actually sing it out loud when you’re in the exam 🙊.
Tip 3: Become the teacher
First, you’ll need to find a student (i.e. a friend or family member willing to sit and listen to you lecture them). Then, the aim is to deliver the info you’ve been revising as if you were trying to prepare them for an exam in a way that a teacher would in a classroom. Use any props you have lying around to help you too. A small whiteboard and some markers goes such a long way!
This won’t just test your recall, it will improve your ability to communicate the content clearly and concisely, something you’ll need to do for your exams and assignments. Try not to go power-mad though and start dishing out homework – it might not go down too well.
Tip 4: Go somewhere new
Head to the park. Bring your books to the local cafe. Go to the beach. Drive somewhere new and study in your car with a view. Fly to the city you’ve always dreamed of visiting. (Ok, that last one might be a bit too much).
If you’re finding it hard to work at home, a new environment will stimulate your brain and make working through the material that bit more accessible. Of course, this one isn’t really a daily tip, but it’s a good move to play when you have that 'nothing is going in' feeling.
Tip 5: Go postal for Post-Its
This one’s a bit rogue, but if it works for you it could be your secret weapon. Basically, the idea is to write down as much handy, bite-size info you can onto post-its and stick them up all over your house.
That way, a cup of tea will suddenly become a refresher of a Physics equation, or a trip to the bathroom will be a surprise reminder of an Economics definition. You’ll trick your brain into digesting this info while feeling like you’re not doing work at all – which, let’s be honest, is the ultimate revision fantasy. This one may leave your family members very irritated, but that’s when you can remind them that education is important.
Tip 6: Scent it
Ever notice how a particular smell can trigger a super clear memory? It’s no accident – research has actually found that the scent of rosemary improves memory by 5-7% to name but one handy memory-smell.
Time to put this science to good use. Start studying with some choice scented candles and see if it helps. Best case scenario, your results go way up; worst case, they stay the same and you get to enjoy some lovely aromas. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Tip 7: Dunk your head into icy water
Ok, yes, this one is perhaps the weirdest of all. But trust me, it works. When your brain has hit a wall and is feeling too fuzzy for any input, fill the sink up with some ice-cold water and dunk away. The short, sharp shock will zap your brain back into life and you’ll have that second wind needed to get to the end of your day’s workload.
Tip 8: Don’t revise right before an exam
You know that guy sitting outside the exam five minutes before it begins, looking incredibly stressed, desperately rifling through his notes because he found one question in 1972’s past paper that he couldn’t answer and is now desperately trying to find the material? Yeah, don’t be that guy.
Set yourself a hard deadline of when to close the books, and stick to it. Honestly, whatever little morsel of info you might squeeze in right before exam time is not worth the stress. You want to go into the exam as zen-like as your nerves will allow, so literal last-minute cramming is a no-go.
Everyone has their own unique revision style, but there’s no harm in trying out some new techniques – you never know what might end up making the difference. Give these tips a whirl and you might just find your weirdest revision tactic becomes your best one. Good luck!