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5 Revision Techniques That Are Proven to Work

Running out of ideas on how to revise efficiently? These five tactics have been recommended by experts time and time again.

How many of these do you already do, and how many do you need to introduce?

Is your exam tomorrow? You definitely need to read our latest blog post 7 Things Every Student Should Do the Night Before an Exam – find it here!


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Revision Technique 1: Layering

Revision can often be a daunting task, particularly for essay-based subjects such as history and English literature, where memory of particular dates and quotes is vital to make a good essay.

The “layering” technique is a simple but useful tool for learning and remembering complicated information.

You begin by learning the easiest facts about a particular topic. This will act as the foundation of your knowledge.

Once you have established this, begin to gradually add more complex information (which will build the layers of your knowledge).

Although this technique does take time, it is particularly effective if before you get nervous or panic before an exam, because you will always remember the foundation layer of your knowledge.

Revision Technique 2: The Protégé Effect

This is a concept that has been used for thousands of years to help with both memory and understanding a topic.

Scientists have found that students who tutor others actually work harder to ensure that they understand the material that they are teaching, remember it more accurately and also apply it to their work much more efficiently.

This technique is particularly effective because of the fact that a teacher, regardless of the situation, must understand the topic better than the student does.

Although you may not actually have a student to teach, you can still apply this technique to your revision by learning the information as though you are going to be teaching it to others, or even pretending to explain the information to someone else.

Revision Technique 3: Interleaving

The “interleaving” technique is based on what you do with your time during your revision. As opposed to dedicating a whole day to revise a subject (known as the “blocking” technique), interleaving mixes different subjects together on the same day.

Research has shown that using the interleaving technique can help to improve scores and grades on your final exam. By using this revision technique, it can help to improve the brains ability to differentiate different concepts and information.

Interleaving is a technique that all students can use and apply and you are able to embed as much or as little information as you want.

Also, by revisiting subjects in short 20-30 minute sessions, this can help to increase the amount of information that you remember during tests and exams.


Make sure you take a well-earned break! Have a go at one of our two-minute quizzes as a revision treat!


Revision Technique 4: Mnemonics

This is a technique which is often used to remember simple and complex topics/information by association. One example of a mnemonic is “Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain” which is used to remember the colours of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet).

The beauty of mnemonics is that they help to creating more meaningful associations that can give you hints to allow you to retrieve information from your long-term memory.

To create a mnemonic, you can use acronyms like OIL RIG, or phrases such as “My Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Served Us Noodles” to remember the planets, for example.

Revision Technique 5: Past Papers

Past papers are a great way of testing how well your revision is going without being in real exam conditions, so that you’re able to focus more on your weaker areas during revision. Understanding the exam and what is required is essential for revision and preparation for an exam.

This doesn’t just have to be going through past papers and answering questions as, although this is useful for revision, you are able to get so much more out of past papers. For example, by going through things such as the examiner’s report. Using this document can help you to identify topics that may appear in your exam year after year, or even some topics that haven’t appeared in a while.

Also, some exams, particularly science subjects, require specific terms and points that you need to use in your answers to get the marks. Practice papers can be useful to practice writing answers and prevents you from losing marks for questions/topics that you have understood, but haven’t answered the question in the way that the examiner wants you to.

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Published: 14/05/18     Author: Sarah Umar

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