If you are revising for exams at the moment, you may find that no matter how hard you study or how many hours you spend revising, the information just isn’t sticking. If that is how it is for you, you need to try something different. Here are some tips to make your study more effective:
1. Set yourself revision goals for each day and plan your work to achieve them. Make sure you include some rest times every 40-50 minutes.
2. Rewards yourself for study goals achieved for example call to a friend or have 10 minutes on a favourite game.
3. Make it easy to do your revision by keeping your study area tidy and well-ordered. Keep books and notes for different subjects separate and easy to find.
4. Make it hard for things to distract you. Keep your mobile phone on silent, turn off Facebook, Twitter etc. Leave your computer games in a different room
5. Understand how you prefer to take on and remember information. Some people take in information most easily through images and pictures, some through sound and some through physical experiences. If you are someone who can picture things easily, mind maps will be a useful revision tool (see How to Mind Map by Tony Buzan). If pictures don’t work so well for you, try recording your revision notes and listening back to them or just saying them out loud. If you are someone who learns by doing or experiencing things, try walking while reading your notes or tracing key words in the air with your finger.
6. Exercise first thing in the morning to increase your brain power. Exercise increases levels of hormones that are important to neurotransmitters and generates new brain cells. Study the subject you find most difficult immediately after exercise for the best effect.
7. Have some peppermint or rosemary essential oil in your revision room. Both scents have been shown to stimulate the brain. If you find it helpful, you can put some on a tissue to take into the exam room.
8. Baroque music is frequently used by trainers as background music to aid learning. You can try playing Bach, Handel or Vivaldi while you are studying.
9. Have a laugh! The Von Restorff Effect predicts that material that is outstanding in some way is easier to remember. That distinctiveness can come in the form of humour or by making something bizarre or funny. So if you are having trouble remembering something see if you can put it into a joke or cartoon or make a humorous mnemonic for it.
10. Drink plenty of water – you can’t think straight when you are dehydrated.