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


Why do we Procrastinate and How can I Stop?

Empty page in writing pad

Why do we procrastinate is a perfect topic right now. It’s dreary beyond belief out of the window, set to rain all day and a Star Wars marathon on the couch is extremely tempting. But, I know deep down what I’m really doing, despite their potential for developing Britpolitics, is procrastinating and lacking motivation for the tasks in front of me.

What is procrastination?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines procrastination as ‘to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.’

This is entirely true.

When it came to studying, I put off revision countless times on subjects, like maths, because I hated them. But, what it leaves out is fear.

Part of my loathing for maths was that I found it incredibly hard. I thought I would get it wrong, be humiliated, and ultimately fail all my tests. So, fear is a major source of procrastination and for many, its intensity goes beyond ‘unpleasant.’

Fear will cause us to never start writing that dissertation in case its rubbish, not bother doing that assignment or turning up to that exam because you won’t pass anyway. All of these are forms of self-sabotage wrapped up with a procrastination bow.

In terms of motivation, when we procrastinate it zaps all of our energy. The emotion, intensity and guilt you put into procrastinating over studying often far outweigh doing the unpleasant or boring task or facing your fears. But, I’m thinking like me, you know the theory and what would really help are some practical tips. Am I right? Well, here goes.

6 Top Tips to Stop Procrastinating

One  – Don’t break off for anything (and I mean anything)

Get rid of distractions – switch your phone notifications off, close your tabs and go to full screen. Then, use the time you have to full effect. You can set a timer or try the Pomodoro Study Technique to give you a structure. Unless it’s a major emergency, do not leave your chair or your keyboard and do not let your mind wander into other tasks. Naturally, when we procrastinate, you will tell yourself something else is more important. Take a breath. Acknowledge it isn’t true and keep going right through to completion. If you can, fully complete the task you are procrastinating about otherwise it will be waiting for you next time and you’ll start the process again.

Two – Create the right environment

For reasons I do not understand I cannot work on a Saturday. I procrastinate, have zero creative ideas, my words don’t flow and I even clunk my way around the keyboard more than usual. So, unless urgent I don’t bother. I also don’t bother around 3:00 pm, I can’t work in slouchy clothes or without make-up on and I’ve never been an all-nighter student. Being a classic introvert, I can’t work around lots of people (a busy coffee shop – seriously!) or noise. But, chances are a) you think I’m a bit weird and b) you’ve got your own set of quirks. Analyse the environment you’re currently trying to study in. Assess it under noise, distractions, light, hot/cold, time of day, location, desk set-up and personal comfort. Is your environment helping you or hindering you?

Three  – Start small and do the thing you fear the most first

Just a little nudge can start the ball rolling when we procrastinate. Don’t think, I’ve got to write twenty pages today maybe start with completing a paragraph (never the opening one) on a part you find easier. Another great tip is to start a mind map – pick up a pen and just get ideas going away from your computer screen.

And, do the thing you fear the most first. If it’s mind-numbingly boring stick some music on and set a deadline, if it’s unpleasant there’s a comfort to be found on the side of resolution or if it’s scary then I believe you can’t have exhilaration without pushing through fear.

Four – Know when you’re hiding

Recognise procrastination when it’s in front of you. For me, it was, and still is, research (and making cups of tea).

Research can be never-ending therefore it is the perfect place to hide when something’s a bit scary or feels out of reach. Use the ‘just in time’ method. What do I need to know or do right now so I can start and what, if I’m truly honest can wait until later?

Five – Ask for help

Sometimes the best antidote to procrastination is to be open about it. Don’t suffer in silence and end up wasting a lot of time. If you’re procrastinating because you find a study task hard ask for help, join a study group, talk to someone or get involved in an online forum for a cathartic rant and tips.

Six – Use the best memorising techniques for you

If you’re finding revising your notes difficult and nothing seems to be going in there is every chance you will get disheartened, put it in the ‘it’s really hard’ box in your mind and give yourself a one-way ticket to procrastination. Remember, everyone learns and memorises information differently. Don’t force yourself into a style of revision that doesn’t suit you or come naturally.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below or you can find me on Instagram @elizabeth_britpolitics or on Twitter @_Britpolitcs.

Catch-up soon.


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Dissertation writing and planning tips – where should I start?

overwhelmed feeling

To help me give you these dissertation writing and planning tips I was going to dig out my two dissertations from the vault (aka the garage) but was quickly dissuaded as I Iooked into the landfill abyss of Amazon boxes and things I’ve never gotten around to selling. But, completing a dissertation tends to stick in the memory, so here goes…

Welcome to my garage.

To this day, I do not know what possessed me to write not one but two dissertations (undergraduate + post-graduate) on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. That’s 50,000 words and combined about a year of my life!

I passed both times but I don’t look back on my dissertations with a sense of accomplishment; actually with a tinge of embarrassment and I’m cringing as I write this. Why? Because I know I didn’t do any of the things I’m about to share with you when I started. I didn’t even get better after the first one. The good news is, I was able to learn from these mistakes and apply them to projects I’ve carried out and future courses.

You need to look at the checklist below in order. If you don’t do every one of these you’ll get stuck somewhere. For example, there’s no point setting up a work schedule if your scope is too big. Make sense?

  • Pick a topic – you may instinctively know what you want to do. But, more commonly, you may not. So, what previous study did you enjoy? What personal interests or experience do you have? Is there a topic related to a career aspiration you have? What’s in the news? Are there any unresolved questions you jotted down from two-years of lectures?
  • Once, you have some ideas; work up your opinion first. Explore your view before immersing yourself in everyone else’s. My top piece of advice is to Choose the one you are most excited about. (Apparently, for me this was an Iraqi Dictator!) I cannot stress how much time and energy will go into writing your dissertation. Your interest in the subject, when you have a wobble that it’s crap or you think you’ve chosen the wrong question, will carry you through.
  • Sketch-out the end first. Think of yourself working your way to a conclusion you already think and are testing as you go along
  • Now, use the experts! Agree on your scope with your tutor and maybe find someone who’s got experience writing a dissertation in or near to your topic.
  • “Fail to Plan: Plan to Fail” Even if you’re super-organised you need a method and tools right from the start to keep you on track. Your brain will tell you “Hey, I’ve got ages.” But, don’t underestimate the time it will take to complete as you’re just storing up stress for the end. Read my ‘Four top tips for getting and staying organised’ blog for more advice.
  • So, you’ve planned your research time into a busy diary. The trick now is don’t get overwhelmed with research or hide in it as I did! Keep a track of notes and references as you go along.
  • And, when you start. Don’t get put off by the competition or ask friends how much work they’ve done already. It’s a bit like when you come out of an exam and someone grills you about what you’ve put for every answer to the point you think you’ve failed. Well, ‘Dissertation Guy’ will tell you their topic is ground-breaking and should be written, checked and bound in a fortnight. Not helpful.

If you’re starting a dissertation or if you’re right in the middle, remember, you can write well otherwise you wouldn’t be there. Go back, and look at what you wrote in your first year. Look how far you’ve come. You’ve got this! Also, check out my resources pages for even more help.

As always, I love to hear your views and if you found these tips useful. Drop me an email or DM at elizabeth_britpolitics on Instagram.

Catch-up soon


p.s. Saddam Hussein left to the mercies of Word spellchecker is Sadist Hussey (could have been soooooooo bad if I’d clicked ‘change all’ and not ‘ignore all’ at 2:00 am)

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Four Top Tips for Getting and Staying Organised

staying organised

I love it when a plan comes together! You’re starting a sparkly brand new course or moving into the next phase. Either way, it’s a fresh start; a new timetable; and a chance to say “Right, this year, no ifs, no buts, I am going to plan and be organised!”

Here are a few top tips on how to nail your organisation this year. In full disclosure, some of the links are Amazon affiliate links, which means at no cost to you I receive a small commission to put back into the site. I only ever recommend products I believe will be helpful to you.


Schedule a meeting with yourself.

  • We turn up to lots of things, including things we don’t want to. Classes, seminars, dates or appointments. And, why do we turn up? Because they’re at set times and because we’ve deemed them to be important. But, when it comes to setting study time we don’t always do this. Some of it may be fear and procrastination, we get distracted, and time ticks on. But, before you know it another academic week has shot past!
  • Be realistic and schedule definite times when you can’t study or do not wish to study. Also, when are you most productive? I never schedule anything on a Saturday afternoon – I don’t know why but I’m just useless. Nothing goes into my brain and nothing remotely creative comes out. It’s just a mental block from school times. My brain is saying “go and do something else because this ain’t happening?”


Create clarity and distinctiveness.

  • First, have a good de-clutter. It’s hard to create a system that will stand you in good stead to being organised if there’s stuff, including last year’s notes everywhere. File them somewhere and, if you’re completing a longer course, make sure they’re in great shape for when you need them to revise.
  • Be honest, and review what worked for you in previous courses and what went a bit wrong. Set realistic changes for yourself that are actionable and measurable. For example, I’m going to download my electronic diary onto my phone so I can update it in real-time. Then, when it’s done; it’s done.
  • Not everything needs to be electronic (see tip four) – Are you a visual person Do you need a diary or an academic planner. Perhaps, a wall planner could work for you? There are lots of cheap ones where everything falls off or the pens don’t work. I have used this one for several years; It gives me a whole year perspective but in this link, you can find lots of wall planners set by academic year too. (paid link)

A friendly note: If you’re at university (or at home) make sure you know the rules about blue-tac and pinning first (or it may be bye-bye deposit) : (


Buy anything you need now…

  • If you don’t have supplies to hand you will start your own ahem… ‘system’ on what you do have. I love these notepads. Oxford Campus Wirebound Notebooks, (paid link) been using them for years. Good quality paper, smooth writing and different bright colours to grab and go.
  • Think about your system first, how you will divide your learning into manageable sections so you don’t get overwhelmed. This will tell you how many sets of flashcards, notepads or multi-coloured post-its you need.


Create a structure to your electronic notes and files

  • Do not have twenty files saying





Firstly, it’s completely uninspiring and overwhelming. Secondly, when you come back to it a year from now it will mean nothing!

Use dates, times, course numbers or specific themes such as your essay title.

  • I use Dropbox (also my file insurance policy) and create folders within it. Much easier than having one long list of documents
  • Set up a note in your phone to match each course heading or titles that mean something to you. Here you can add little bits of information as you go along. Make sure notes is switched on to back up to a cloud.
  • If you think of something important, and it’s chunky, send an email to yourself with a good subject line to help you recall what the email was about. Your inbox will set up its filing system. All you need to do is create a filter using your name and press search.

As always, I’d love to know how you stay organised and if you found these tips useful. Drop me an email or DM at elizabeth_britpolitics on Instagram.

Catch-up soon


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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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How to create Mind Maps to help you plan, study and revise

desk scene

It sounds a bit Sci-Fi but the use of visual diagrams has been around for centuries.

A mind map means you take information from your head and organize it visually in a diagram.

How do you create a Mind Map?

Mind maps work best with a single concept or question.

• Draw one circle in the centre of a large piece of paper (or on a device if that’s your thing)
• For your major themes draw boxes, arrows or branches coming off the circle.
• Have your minor themes coming off the boxes, arrows or branches you have just drawn.

Structuring a Mind Map design: An example

Going retro, I think of a spider diagram.

The body of the spider is the main point or question e.g. what were the causes of the English Civil War?

The legs are the major themes such as…
• Leg 1 = Money
• Leg 2 = King Charles I’s personality
• Leg 3 = Religion etc…

Finally, the minor themes drawn from each leg may be…
• Leg 1 = Money – The ship Tax.
• Leg 2 = King Charles I’s personality – Appointing William Laud.
• Leg 3 = Religion – The rise of the Puritans

How can I use Mind Maps when I study?

  • Organize your lecture notes. If it’s a good lecture it will be segmented into themes. So, put the title of the lecture e.g. ‘The powers of the UK Parliament’ in the centre and expand out with what you hear and think as it happens.
  • If someone asked me to do a mind map about Keynesian economics I would have a circle in the middle and nothing else! It’s hard to have a detailed mind map about something you know little about. Starting one shows you where the gaps are but if branch 2 looks a bit pathetic get researching
  • In a world of clicking and scrolling there’s something liberating about free drawing with stationery, glitter pens and highlighters.
  • Use them as a planning session. It’s more creative than a list and will help you prioritise and manage overwhelm. Find out more tips about managing overwhelm here.

My Ten Top Tips for Successful Mind Maps

  • Don’t over think or over style it. If your mind map becomes a mess make your concept smaller. For example, the causes of the English Civil War could be four mind maps covering four individual years.
  • Have a notepad exclusively for mind maps or integrate them into an exclusive notepad for each module.
  • Buy notepads with pages you can easily scan. Create a copy and stick it on the wall at a later date
  • Read your mind map one hour later – do all the drawings, mini-notes and scribbles make sense? You don’t want to look at it before a big test and think ‘what did that red box mean again?’
  • Share your mind map with a friend, maybe you’ve forgotten a branch
    Don’t go for perfection. Yes, you want it to look engaging and bright but if you ran out of room for a thick branch so the last one looks a bit odd – so what.
  • Only re-draw if a) it will help you clarify your thoughts b) you think you’ve got major gaps or c) in reflection it’s not going to serve you very well for revision or writing that exam question.
  • Remove distractions. Maybe use the Pomodoro Technique to time yourself. What is this? Find out here.
  • Don’t use technology if it will slow you down. You want to get your ideas out of your head, assemble them and allow free-flowing ideas. Spending ten minutes trying to perfectly line up an arrow with the oval shape in Photoshop will take your mind away from the task.
  • If you want nicely designed Mind Maps sign up to Canva (it’s free) you can create glossy looking mind maps, but you don’t need to
  • There are lots of free mind map templates out there. Many are quite corporate but can be adapted.

Good Luck – Happy Mind Mapping!

As always, get in touch or leave a comment – I love hearing from you.

Catch-up soon


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