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As Easter is over, and hopefully you were able to relax and eat lots of chocolate(!), it’s likely that you’re starting to get your head down and learn all that information that’s been given to you over the past couple of years.
We are all different, and that means that the way we like to learn and revise is different. Tailoring your revision to suit your personality and learning style will help you remember more in the exam.
There are plenty of theories on learning styles that we are not going to bore you with here, but for the most part, you will prefer learning:
- using sounds and music
- using pictures and images, and spatially
- using your body, hands and sense of touch
At the same time, you might have more than one learning style, and benefit from a number of study methods, so remember that you can mix and match to suite you best. At the same time, you might find that one method just doesn't work for you, and once you've found that out, drop it and waste no more time!
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If you find it easy to remember what your teacher says in class, but find it hard to retain information you’ve read in a book you’re probably an auditory learner. This means that you retain and understand information best by listening to it via audio and video, whilst traditional methods such as making notes are not terribly effective,
Firstly, write your notes out, but don’t spend too long on them, and you don’t need to make them look too fancy and colourful.
Once they’ve been written out, try a number of techniques that might help you recall them. If you are studying on your own, background music might help you concentrate and keep you focused, although nothing too noisy or with words in to confuse you, and you could try reciting your notes out loud to yourself. You can also use games such as word association, especially for languages, mnemonics, songs, or rhymes or rhythms which you can link to stories such as those in History or RE. You can also repeat facts and formula to yourself over and over again.
If you want to move about a bit, you can do this by walking up and down your room and talking to youself. You could also try using different voices to study, like creating a script or acting out a play.
However, remember that you won’t actually be able to talk out loud during your exam, so towards the end of your revision period when you are doing past papers examine yourself without speaking out loud or learn to recite in your head.
You may also like to use podcasts or videos to help you revise, and there are currently plenty out there. If you can’t find the right podcast, try recording your notes on your phone and listening back to them. This is also great as it means that you can play them when you are out and about, perhaps walking the dog, or when you are getting ready to go out.
As an auditory learner, you might also find it easy to learn by discussing concepts and information with other people. If you’ve friends that also like to learn this way, you could try setting up study groups and taking it in turns to explain topics to one another. With the invention of Skype and other online tools, you can do this from the luxury of your bedroom.
If you can’t find anyone to study with, rope in your parents to explain things to them while they are cooking tea after you’ve spend the day revising and understanding a subject. It will help you to cement your understanding of that a topic.
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As a visual learner, you find it easiest to remember and understand information by seeing it. As you won’t have remembered everything taught to you in class, the first thing you need to do is get your notes in order.
Organise your notes so the facts and topics fit together, and as you’re organising them you’ll be thinking through the material, as well as writing it out in outline form, which will help you create a visual pattern that’s easy for you to understand and recall when it comes to exams. You can then reorganise your notes with different patterns.
As you remember information that’s presented in picture-form, in creating your notes you might want to think about drawing symbols and creating flowcharts, graphs, diagrams, and categories. As the layout of your notes will be important, and it's likely that if your notes are different enough you'll remember them page by page, you may want to add different sketches to the side of your notes as this will distinguish them and jog your memory in an exam.
You’ll also want to make your notes colourful as you are likely to remember what you read based on the colours you use. If you’re condensing your notes to flashcards, consider buying different coloured flashcards, perhaps for topics or subjects, and this is also true of post-it notes. You’ll also want to use as many coloured highlighters and pens as possible. You might highlight key words or phrases that are important. You might also want to try using symbols in the same way, for example information next to a triangle, a square or a circle might mean something important.
Having facts, formulas and mnemonics hanging around rooms will help you learn whenever you encounter them - rememeber to use post-its or index cards the same colour as the topic or subject in question so everything is organised in your brain.
You could also try watching online videos, while if you've got specific information to learn, such as facts or quotes, you might want to learn them off by heart.
As a visual learner, it's likely that you'd like to study in a quiet study environment.
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Physical learners (sometimes called kinaesthetic learners) learn and remember best by doing, and hands-on studying. Unfortunately, it’s not a method that’s used much in the classroom, so it may be that you need to spend more time by yourself to learn and understand the information given to you in class.
The first things for you to do is organise your notes. Giving your notes a structure and the act of doing, such as creating flowcharts and graphs will help you retain information. If possible, it would be even more useful if you could move about when creating these notes, so try creating notes on a large scale, perhaps on an empty wall in your bedroom or on whiteboards. You might want to use post-it notes and coloured pens and move your information around.
Flashcards are great as the act of writing out information and physically flipping them over and testing yourself helps you retain information, while you might also want to try mnemonics.
If you are sitting at a desk when revising, you might want to use your fingers to trace the words while you are reading and re-writing facts and phrases. If you feel yourself getting restless, take a break - frequent, short breaks will benefit you as they will give you the chance to refocus when you sit down again. If your hands are free, you might want to think about keeping them occupied, for example by using a stressball.
You’ll also find inventing more examples to demonstrate the main concepts and points helpful, rather than just learning the facts, for example in physics and maths picturing formula, such as the way snooker balls move across a table or the way balls fall when thrown will help cement information (in this instance, the relationship between speed, distance, time and friction).
Another method you could try would be to stick post-it notes round your bedroom and spending the time going round the room and talking to yourself about the facts on the note. You could also try acting out information, for example battle scenes in History to help you in your quest for knowledge.
You may find that you learn quite well outside the house, for example when walking the dog or at the gym, or if you are at home doing something like cooking dinner. If you are walking to dog, you could try listening to podcasts or material you've recorded for yourself, while if you go to the gym you could try testing yourself with flashcards on the machines.
As a physical learner, you might also find it easy to learn by discussing concepts and information with other people. If you’ve friends that also like to learn this way, you could try setting up study groups and taking it in turns to explain topics to one another. With the invention of Skype and other online tools, you can do this from the luxury of your bedroom.