Revision is an inevitable part of student life. We all know it’s not the most enjoyable task but it’s one that has got to be done.
Although it can be tempting to leave it as late as possible to start, the earlier you can begin revising the less pressure there is on you to fit it all in.
Emily Allen, Senior Learning Coach at legal education experts BARBRI, has compiled her top learning techniques for students. She says: “Research shows that cramming in revision, which is favoured by most students, is ineffective compared to other learning styles. So this list features techniques that have been scientifically proven to increase knowledge intake.”
- Retrieval practice – One of the best ways to improve your learning is to try and recall information that you have previously obtained.
At the beginning of each study session, try to recall the topics from your previous session or online lesson by writing bullet points about the topic from memory and then double-checking that you have remembered correctly. This will get your brain working faster than if you just re-read your revision or lecture notes.
Another option is to take an online quiz or practice test so that you can identify areas that you are stronger in and the areas that you should prioritise in your next study session.
Many students find it incredibly effective to talk about the topic to a friend or family member. It’s also a good idea to try and contact your fellow students to see if they would be willing to act as a study partner over video call or email.
You will find yourself remembering more about the topic as you verbally describe and explain each concept or fact. Practice retrieval will reinforce your knowledge of the topic, especially if the person you are talking to asks questions.
- Practice testing – Taking practice tests helps familiarise you with the exam layout and question formats, and they will also highlight gaps in your knowledge that you can work on. Taking regular practice tests can help to ease the stress and anxiety that accompanies the actual exams and help you to consolidate your knowledge into answering actual questions.
- Elaborative interrogation – This involves thinking of questions about the topics that you are studying so that you can add background information. You will form your own interpretation of the topics rather than just absorbing what you are being told from other resources. You can build on existing knowledge that you may already have. It’s helpful to form your own connections between topics or conduct further research into a particularly complex area to gain an understanding of the bigger picture.
- Summarisation – You are exposed to large volumes of information when you are studying for exams. This can often get confusing as you try to remember it all at once. However, a good learning technique is to summarise the most important information and factors from each topic. Try reading a passage in a textbook or making notes in a lecture and then pick out the essential facts and ideas. You should try to focus on the keywords and phrases to get a better understanding of the principle factors of the topic. This technique is best applied straight after a lesson or study session so that you can summarise everything that you have learnt. It will also highlight any areas that you are unsure about so that you can talk about them with your personal tutor. Summarising topics will make it easier to revise nearer the exam as you can pick out the key components from each topic, rather than having to read through pages and pages of information.
- Spaced practice – Students are notorious for trying to cram lots of studying into each day as they near an exam, but this technique can be very stressful and ineffective. It’s better to spread out your study time in the weeks and months leading up to an exam so that you can take the information in more manageable chunks, which will enable you to retain more information in the long run. Although cramming sessions might seem effective before an exam, you are likely to forget the information in the following weeks and months because you didn’t spend long enough on each section.
- Collaborate – It’s good to talk to your peers and tutors where possible so that you can get help with topics that you are struggling with or expand your knowledge. You should make a note of your tutors’ office hours so that you can arrange a meeting in advance. It’s also beneficial to attend workshops so that you can discuss work with other students. It’s likely that you will have different strengths and weaknesses to your peers, which is a good reason to arrange study sessions. Explaining topics to someone else can reinforce your knowledge, while a fellow student could help you to see a topic from a different perspective.
There are so many learning techniques to try, which is why you should switch to a new one if you find a certain method isn’t working for you.
- For tips visit www.barbri-prep.com/