Revision Techniques

Most pupils think revision is highlighting / summarising… think again!

That’s right, throw away your highlighter pens and stop rereading your notes over and over… revision isn’t what you thought it was.

Everyone knows that in order to prepare for an exam, you need to remember what you’ve learned in school so that you can answer questions on the content in exam conditions. If you haven’t already read the section on the difference between recognition and recall in memory then consider having a look now. Otherwise read on to find out why what most pupils like to do to revise simply doesn’t work.

Recent studies by educational psychologists have revealed some shocking findings about how little decades of school work has been doing for pupils’ ability to perform in exams.

Let’s start with what doesn’t work:

“Five techniques received a low utility assessment: summarization, highlighting, the keyword mnemonic, imagery use for text learning, and rereading.”

The reasons for these techniques

“Practice testing and distributed practice received high utility assessments because they benefit learners of different ages and abilities and have been shown to boost students’ performance across many criterion tasks and even in educational contexts.”

Essentially, simulating the testing environment of an exam, and practicing using knowledge in small doses over long periods are the two methods that can be proven to work.

“Most students report rereading and highlighting, yet these techniques do not consistently boost students’ performance, so other techniques should be used in their place (e.g., practice testing instead of rereading).”


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