The Top Ten Revision Techniques You May Not Have Tried Yet

Student revising

Here, I don’t want to dive into the full-on super serious revision techniques. You can check out my essential revision resources list for that.

What I want to show you are my top ten quick-fire revision techniques for improving your ability to revise which maybe you haven’t tried yet. My aim? To make your exam revision just that little bit easier.

Top Ten Revision Techniques – Quick Fire


Use Times New Roman in your typed notes. Apparently it’s the fastest to read and provides less stress on your brain.


Positive thinking. Which thought’s going to make you more productive a) “I’m never going to understand this it’s impossible” or b) “I find this topic a challenge but I know if I mastered this first section there’s nothing stopping me from doing the rest.” Don’t be your own worst critic because let’s face it, you’ve got enough on.


Flashcards that are written in a way someone else can help you. It’s great to have flashcards written with codes, squiggles and underlines that only you know. But, how powerful for your memorising if there’s a set where you have to say answers out loud to someone quizzing you.


Calming sounds. Some people find music a help (I find it confuses me and I start writing down lyrics) but if you find revision stressful and get stressed your brain is not going to remember as well. Try classical music or sounds like rain, the sea and swirling winds too. If it seems stupid. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.


Do some kinetic learning. And by this I mean memorise whilst moving around. You don’t have to jump on a treadmill and run 10K but studies have shown incorporating movement, like walking, whilst trying to revise helps you retain information and keep calm.


Try the one hour rule. Improve your chances of recall by looking at your notes one hour after you’ve written them.


Create visual associations in unusual places. You’ve probably got a bed or desk covered in papers and post-its. You’re more likely to remember that key date if it’s on a pink flashcard in the fridge or the yellow flashcard with the quote on next to the teabags.


Write what you think as well as what’s being said. Don’t just parrot out what you’ve read or re-write your notes out hundreds of times. You don’t know how the exam question will be phrased. You don’t want a blind panic because you only know how to answer a question about the Russian Revolution in a specific way. By understanding the information rather than just memorising it you will be able to adapt and overcome on the day.


Be honest if you don’t understand something. Don’t waste hours trying to learn a concept in five books or pages or notes that don’t make sense (and didn’t at the time either!) Ask someone to explain it to you again. It’s ok.


Use the ‘Generation Effect’ – you can commit information to your memory much easier if you talk out loud than just keep writing things down. Find out more about this in my previous post.

I hope you enjoyed these top ten research techniques and that there were a few you hadn’t come across. If you have any techniques that work well do share them in the comments below and don’t forget to check out these essential resources if you’re studying GCSE History to take you to the next level.

As ever, if you have any subjects you would like to see covered get in touch I love to hear from you.

Catch-up soon


Understanding The Generation Effect: Three Ways to Improve Your Memory and Revision.

generation effect

Did you know you’re 50% more likely to remember something if you say it out loud rather than write it down?

So, if you’re revising or trying to remember pretty much anything and it’s not working keep reading. Below, I explain what’s happening inside your brain plus three different techniques, which may assist you.

What is The Generation Effect?

The Generation Effect does not mean you have a better memory than your mum!

It is a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is ‘generated’ from your own mind rather than simply read.

As Jennifer Aniston said in a 90s shampoo advert ‘Here comes the science…’

Reading is a passive activity whereas talking is a generative activity, which encourages you (the learner) to use methods during your learning (also called encoding) that can be evoked during retrieval of the information you’ve learned.

To me this makes sense. When I settle down to read my latest historical fiction novel I see it as a form of mental escapism. Literally, in a passive way, it immerses me but doesn’t really go in.

As an experiment, I took it up a notch and tried to remember what I’d read by writing it down. I did it, but it was an effort. I then took a different section and spoke out loud about what I’d just read instead. And guess what? An hour later I could recall much clearer the section I’d spoken out loud. I also, unexpectedly, found that trying to recall from just reading and writing felt the greater mental strain.


Applying The Generation Effect: Three Top Tips


Read your notes out loud

Ok, you need to get over the weirdness here.

The quintessential picture of a student is sat in a silent library swamped by books, journals and notepads furiously scribbling. It is not usually talking to themselves perhaps pacing up and down the room. But, let’s break the mould!

Pick a topic you’re reasonably confident on, wait for everyone to go out if you need to, and then just go for it. From experience, like public speaking, you will only feel comfortable the more you do it.

It’s also a good idea to start this technique early. Don’t adopt it the day before your exam!

Added bonus.

Throughout your course, record your notes on your phone or computer and give it a clear file name. When it comes to crunch revision time you’ll have a bank of audio files to listen to.


Create mnemonic phrases

Ok, you’ve mastered speaking out loud. Let’s up the weirdness as people walk past your room and hear you singing all the different reasons Parliament went to war with King Charles I.

Mnemonic devices such as songs, sequences, rhymes and unusual word associations aid your memory because they create distinctiveness. I still remember Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived as a way of remembering the order of King Henry VIII’s wives for my GCSE History (ouch, that was a long time ago!).

Why not go for the double whammy of creating a catchy song and committing it to memory using a generating technique?


Create Your Own ‘Walk and Talk’

Another great combination is speaking your notes out loud to commit them to memory whilst exercising. The fancy term is kinetic learning.

The science here is exercise, even just twenty minutes walking has a positive effect on your ability to recall information.

So, walk the corridors ‘West Wing’ style, lap the campus or borrow your neighbour’s dog and try this technique.

As with all these techniques, test them on a subject area you are reasonably confident on, make sure you try to recall the information one hour after you’ve finished the technique. And, Repeat, Repeat. Repeat. Some things, or even nothing, may not be a once and done.

I’d love to know if you’ve tried these techniques and if you’re a newbie how they worked for you? Drop me a comment below or there are lots of ways to get in touch.

Catch-up soon


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