Reviewing what you know
You've studied the material during the module so it's in your memory. Here are some ways you can learn to retrieve what you already know.
Try to recall what you know, don't just re-read your study material. Spend time recalling what you can. Have a go at answering a question. Go through your materials again to fill in any gaps, then try a question again.
When you go back through your materials, don't read everything. Flick through introductions, summaries of sections, the headings on contents pages, learning outcomes, main headings. Try to recall things first, but if you find you don't remember or understand something, read in a little more depth.
Write brief notes on topics, using examples from your study materials. Then test yourself on them.
Test with others in a group - write questions for each other and share them.
Work your memory hard by reminding yourself regularly what you've learned. You retain more at the beginning and end of a revision session, so try using these times to review what you learned last study session or what you've just learned.
Write parts of a question
This gives you the chance to become comfortable with the types of question you'll find, the themes and focus of the exam, and how the paper is organised. You don't have to give full answers to every question when you're revising. It's also useful to
- write introductions and conclusions
- do outline planning for the whole answer
- list key points to mention, including those for short answer questions.
Learn to link topics and ideas together. Try
- using themes or concepts to link different case studies, arguments and topics
- visual techniques
- word association techniques
- repetition: re-drawing, re-reading, re-writing, re-listening or repeating things aloud.
Use key words and phrases
These can become prompts to your memory in the exam: ensure that you really understand what they mean and can associate some module examples with them. Also use elements of the module, such as introductions, summaries and key questions. Note whether there are alternative ways of looking at a concept that are covered in your module.
Make audio recordings
Record audio notes of key points, perhaps short quotes or unit summaries that you've made notes on, then play them when you have a chance. Some students find module concepts or facts stick in their minds if they hear rather than read them. (If you want some software to use for recording try this: Audacity - Open source recording software )
Mnemonics can help you remember factual material, as you'll see from these examples. Develop one or two for your own subject.
Acronyms: useful for sequences or lists: here's an example for remembering the system of classification in biology:
- Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
- Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach.
Spelling acronyms: for example for spelling RHYTHM: Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move
Rhymes: 30 days hath September, April, June and November
Spelling associations: stationary (not moving) - a as in automobile; stationery (papers) - e as in envelope
Make sure you know the meaning of important words or specialised terminology. Write two or three sentences to define a process, argument or theory, and then add a module example and a diagram if relevant. If your module has a glossary of terms then include that in your revision.