At Brentside we want all students to be able to study and revise effectively. To support all students we provide common techniques across the curriculum. These techniques are underpinned by evidence based research – this means all teachers refer to the most effective revision techniques.
Effective Revision Strategies:
Here are the six most effective revision strategies and techniques according to current research. You should use these strategies to maximise the impact of the time you spend revising for all of the subjects you are studying. They are listed in order of impact on results (i.e. spaced practice will have the biggest impact on your examination results).
Here is a brief video in which all strategies are explained. Below are brief summaries of each of the six strategies, alongside a video, presentation and poster for each of them.
Spaced practice: It is vital to spread out revision over several weeks before any assessments. You should space your revision out in plenty of time before any assessment – cramming before a test is less effective and knowledge will not be remembered in the long term. Evidence shows that you remember significantly more if you revise for the same amount of time if it is spaced out compared to revising for the same duration in a short space of time just before the assessment.
Retrieval: This involves recreating something you have previously learned from your memory (not copying directly from your exercise books or revision guide). This needs to be spaced out (see above) so you have had a chance to forget it just a little. Practising retrieval makes it easier to remember, and apply, your knowledge in the future.
A particularly effective way to use retrieval and spaced practice is to organise flashcards according to how well you can retrieve the information (see image below).
• All of your cards will start in box 1
• If you correctly retrieve the information – i.e. you can describe or write down all of the information on the card – then you can move the card up to the next box. This means you will refer to it less frequently when you are revising as you are more confident with this information.
• If you get a card wrong it returns to box one no matter which box it was in!
• You can use your calendar on your smartphone to help create a schedule and reminders
Elaboration: This involves explaining and describing ideas with many details. To practics this skill, start by making a list of all of the ideas you need to know. Then, keep asking questions about how these ideas work and why and find answers in your exercise books and revision guides. Self-interrogation like this highlights what you already know, what you need to focus on learning next and encourages you to make connections between different ideas.
Interleaving: Research shows that switching between topics whilst revising helps both knowledge retention (remembering information) and problem solving (applying this knowledge to new and potentially challenging situations). This switching is called interleaving. Interleaving also helps you see the similarities, and differences, between ideas.
Concrete examples: This involves turning abstract ideas into real world examples. Creating a vivid, concrete example can help knowledge stick better. In science, teachers may use a seesaw to explain balancing moments and in English Romeo & Juliet provide a concrete example of romantic love. Make sure to explain how the concrete example explains the concept so you don’t just learn the example itself!
Dual Coding: This involves combining verbal and visual materials, including timelines, diagrams and cartoon strips. Having the information in two formats gives your brain two ways to remember this. For example, drawing a timeline will help you organise events in history or in the plot of a story. A labelled diagram can be really helpful in science or geography. You can use dual coding with retrieval when you try to recreate your visuals from memory