5 Memory Techniques to Help you Revise
Imagine you could remember every word from your revision.
If every fact and figure were to stick, you’d walk into that exam with confidence and
get the grade of your dreams. You’d remember the important names and dates from
history. You’d know the names of important authors. You’d be able to recall a specific
But right now that probably seems impossible, doesn’t it? This is why it is important to
try multiple revision techniques before you find the one that works for you. There is no
such thing as ‘one size fits all’ revision method - whether you’re a kinesthetic learner,
auditory, visual or read-write, there will be a revision and memory method out there to
suit you - you just have to find it.
First things first, it is important for you to highlight exactly what you need to revise.
Studying for an exam means learning a million and one facts, but it is important to
make sure you aren’t overdoing it. Download the specification for free from the exam
board for the subjects you are revising for. They will state the topics you need to know
and what you need to know about them. This makes your life a lot simpler as you will
know exactly what you need to learn.
Before you start revising, use the traffic light system to “RAG” the specification:
● Write G (green) next to the topics you are already familiar with,
● “R” (red) next to the ones that you have the most trouble with,
● “A” (amber) next to ones in between.
Now, revise the Red and Amber topics first! If you can’t find your spec, ask your
teacher and they’ll be happy to help.
Once you’ve done this, it is time to find a revision method that suits you. By trying out
these five memory techniques, you’ll be able to find the perfect revision method that
will make everything stick.
1. Use Mind Maps
Drawing a mind map is a quick and easy way to quickly sum up and link topics, facts
or figures for any subject. They are the mainstay of science and geography teachers,
as they create a visual overview.
Here’s how it works:
● In the centre of the page, draw a bubble with the topic you are studying, e.g “oil”
for GCSE chemistry.
● Draw a line from this bubble to another bubble with the name of a linked topic.
● Fill the new bubble with the facts you need to remember. Short bullet points
work best in this instance.
● Colour bubbles to group similar ideas.
Nearer the exam time you can remake these mind maps with just the information you
keep forgetting to store it in your short term memory.
2. Mind Palaces
Mind Palaces is a mnemonic that helps a person improve their ability to remember
things. Mind Palaces (or memory journey) was made famous by the author of Sherlock
Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But it was formerly known as the “method of loci” and
was developed by the ancient Greeks. It’s popular for memory artists at the circus to
remember any facts or figures.
Here’s how it works:
● Picture a building you know inside and out. You know the placement of the
rooms and cupboards.
● Now, you walk through the front door in your imagination and commit an item
you want to remember to each room by forming an image between the item
and any feature of that room.
● To remember the “fact”” simply walk through the room. When you get better at
it, start using the cupboard too!
If you’re revising in a group, you can make this fun by turning it into a competition with
your friends. Challenge each other to see how many facts you can remember in a
Mnemonics are a system that utilises a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations to
assist remembering something. They are a catchy way to remember things you feel
are quite boring.
Take your pick from:
(source: 1-3 “ https://www.firsttutors.com/uk/blog/2009/08/the-5- best-mnemonics/”)
Physics My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets:
Take the first letter of each word, to get the first letter of the planets, in order. Of
course now Pluto is no longer a planet this one is slightly outdated - but hard to beat!
Biology - Kids Playing Carelessly On Freeways Get Squashed: Otherwise known as the
scientific classification of the species: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus,
Geography - Never Eat Shredded Wheat - Simple, but effective, this first letter
mnemonic helps students to remember the cardinal points of the compass, in order.
Chemistry – please (K) send (Na) Charlie’s (Ca) monkeys (Mg) and zebras (Zn) in
copper (Cu) cages lined (Pb) with gold (Au) – an easy way to remember the order of
the most reactive metals of the reactivity series (metal symbols show in brackets).
4. Card Games
Revision and fun are not two words that will go together, but making a game of
studying with friends or family is a good way to make those facts and figures stick.
Here’s how it works:
● Make revision cards together (sticky post it notes work well) summarising the
most important features of a topic on each card.
● Screw them up, put them in a hat and pull them out at random – make a
question up based on the card you have pulled out and get the other person to
guess what was on the card.
● Troublesome cards can be used as “toilet post cards”. Stick them to the wall and
glance at them until they become familiar.
PO’s MS and COWs
If you don’t know where to start, pull out a past paper or mark scheme (MS) (PP) that
is free to download from all exam boards and try it. Don’t worry about getting a low
score at the start. The more you do, the better you will get.
Once you’ve done this, correct your own work (COW) using the examiners mark
scheme in a colour that stands out. Try to make new mistakes each time by creating a
mind map of your previous mistakes.
Try something different
If you are looking for something else, try down loading the free examiners report
attached to mark schemes on the exam board’s website. These have interesting
comments stating what most students missed out on whilst answering key Questions.
Start early and use whatever technique works best for you. Don’t be afraid of being
different. Have fun with it, the more you do the better your grades will be!