5 Tips For Making Revision More Effective

5 Tips For Making Revision More Effective

Daffodils are in bloom, meaning just one thing. For over a million school children sitting public exams this summer, the revision season is here. So here are five simple, practical tips to make the most of all those hours of preparation.

1: Spacing

Of all the research done into the human memory, this technique has one of the most reliable positive effects, sometimes even doubling your ability to retain information long term. Rather than learning a subject intensively for twelve hours over two days before moving onto the next, spread the revision out (ideally over twelve 1 hour a day slots). So mix those subjects up as much as possible.

2: Memory by location

Where you learn something provides a convenient, brain-friendly hook to boost your chances of remembering. Try changing where you work for each sub topic. Or use Post It notes in often visited locations around the house (bathroom mirror, fridge door) to turn revision into a kind of journey around a familiar place.

3: Regular self testing

Testing has been shown to improve your performance long term, even if you don’t get anything right! Self testing and peer testing should form a significant part of any revision programme, not least of all because it replicates what is required for the actual exam.

4: Interleaving

Described as a “desirable difficulty” by Professor Robert Bjork, interleaving means mixing up your revision within each subject (as an extension to mixing up the subjects revised on any day). In Maths for example, this would mean mixing up factorising, Pythagoras and simultaneous equations once you have got the basics of each. You do practice questions that jump between all three topics, rather than doing one topic at a time. Although this might mean you do ‘worse’ that day, research shows that you do better long term.


We forget things. Fast. Up to 80% a day in fact. But Ebbighaus’s famous “Forgetting Curve”suggests that we can arrest our brain’s natural struggle to commit information to Long Term Memory by introducing short, pithy reviews. The beginning of each revision block should be a quick revisit of what you learnt before. So skim through this blog in a few days time to double your retention of its contents!

Ultimately effective revision over Easter is about committing information to our Long Term Memory bank, not so that we can reproduce it short term only. Happy Studies!

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