Shenfield High School

Improving Memory Skills & Understanding PREP

1. Self-Testing

Self-testing in an effective tool if you have a large amount of information to learn for an assessment or exam.

Let’s say you had to remember the definition of 20 key words.

Start by writing out five key words and their definitions. Study them for 2 or 3 minutes, then put the sheet away.

On another piece of paper, try to write down the key words and definitions from memory.

If you were not able to recall all 5, then repeat the process again. Study the definitions and re-test.

Once you are able to recall 5 key words and definitions, add another 5 to the original sheet.

Give yourself 4 or 5 minutes to study the 10 key words and definitions. Put the sheet away and re-test but this time with 10.

Build this up until you can recall all 20 key words and definitions.

More importantly, re-test yourself a week later. Review your progress and go back to any definitions or words you were unable to write down. Then, re-test yourself a month later with the same words.

The more you re-test, the more you will retain and the easier it becomes.

These techniques could be applied to:

  • Key Information for an Essay
  • Character names and profiles
  • Formula
  • Translations
  • Case Studies
  • Experiment processes
  • Arguments or Quotations
  • And many more!


2. Mind Mapping

 Mind Mapping is a highly effective way of getting information in and out of your brain. Mind Mapping is a creative and logical means of note-taking and note-making that literally "maps out" your ideas.

All Mind Maps have some things in common. They have a natural organisational structure that radiates from the centre and use lines, symbols, words, colour and images according to simple, brain-friendly concepts. Mind Mapping converts a long list of monotonous information into a colourful, memorable and highly organised diagram that works in line with your brain's natural way of doing things.

  • Think of your general main theme and write that down in the centre of the page. i.e. Food
  • Figure out sub-themes of your main concept and draw branches to them from the centre, beginning to look like a spider web i.e. Meats, Dairy, Breads
  • Make sure to use very short phrases or even single words
  • Add images to invoke thought or get the message across better
  • Try to think of at least two main points for each sub-theme you created and create branches out to those

3. Revision Cards

Revision cards are small handheld cards that contain key information. The cards should have a title at the top with 5 or 6 key words, formula or sentences. Try and keep the colour consistent for each topic e.g. green cards for the Environment.

TIP: On the back of the revision card, write the title from the front. Then, after you have read through your cards a number of times, turn them over. Look at the title and self-test yourself on the information. Once you have recalled all you can, turn the card back over and check your answers.

4. Complete the Sentence

If you have a large number of facts to learn for an essay, write out ten key sentences you wish to memorise for the essay. Then, on a separate piece of paper, write out the first half of the sentence and leave the other half blank. Take a break, make a cup of tea, then come back and try to complete the sentences from memory.

If you managed to complete all ten, try and add more sentences and repeat the exercise.

TIP: Once you can complete the sentences with ease, test yourself further by trying to write out all the key sentences from memory without the sentence starters!