OK, how much of what you covered in lectures last semester do you still remember now or when you started revising for your exams? Hardly any? That isn’t surprising if all you did was attend the lecture and then put your notes away and not look at them again until revision time.
According to classic research by Ebbinghaus in 1885 if you don’t review what you have covered within 24 hours you will probably forget at least 80% of it! Reviewing the work, especially in different ways, will cause your brain to make more neural connections – which is what memory needs!
So, how you can you build review into your study habits? Here are a few tips from us.
The day after the lecture – do one of these:
- Summarise each page of your notes into a single paragraph (just a few sentences) at the bottom of each page. If you use the Cornell Method of note taking (see our Note taking page) then you will have a ready-made space for this. But even if you don’t, you can still do it at the end of your notes.
- Illustrate your notes – add images that refer to things in the text. These do not have to be good (in fact they can be awful and still work). They are for your own benefit and are there to help you remember by making connections in different parts of your brain.
- Colour-code your notes (or print outs of the lecture slides) using highlighter pens/underlining with felt-tips. Choose your own colour schemes. Here are some ideas for what you could highlight:
- Most important stuff (key points to remember)
- Links to other reading
- Things that link to information in previous lectures
- Great quotes
- Questions you still have
- Things you want to find out more about
- Create a quick mind map or concept map of your notes. Even if you originally wrote linear notes, you can organize them into a more spacial arrangement to see the links between different topics.
A few days after the lecture:
- If you are lucky enough to have PASS (peer assisted study sessions) attached to a module or your programme, attend your timetabled session to reinforce the learning you had. Even if you found it relatively easy, helping other people who are struggling can mean you will remember it more in the long run. If you are confused by anything, your PASS leaders will organise activities to help you understand more.
- If you don’t have PASS in your department, you can still get together with some people on your course over coffee and see if you have picked out the same things as being key issues. Just discussing it will make more connections in your brain.
Whatever method you choose, don’t ignore the notes until you need them. You will wonder if you were even IN the lecture…and REvision will seem like it’s the first time you’ve covered it.