You need to keep tabs on all the chunks of information that you’re revising. You’ll need to know where you are in the Learning Cycle sequence for each of them so that you can keep on top of your revision and nothing falls by the wayside. If you were to do this using a paper diary or your computer calendar you will have to write in all the revision dates for testing each chunk, and if you have to reset any of those sequences you’ll have to erase the entries you originally put in, replacing them with the new entries.
This will inevitably become so unwieldy that most people don’t bother doing it, that’s if they even realise the first place that they need to. However you do need to do it. It’s absolutely necessary if you want the information that you worked so hard to get into your brain – to stay there. I have good news for you on that score, because the Online Revision Calendar, sponsored by NMBA, Zurich, AXA Wealth, Partnership & Prudential – the software that we have created for you, will keep tabs on all of this and remind you when you have to revisit each chunk. It reminds you, and takes the headache out of the whole process.
If when you come to test yourself at any stage of that sequence, you don’t know everything in your notes, there will be one, two or three reasons that this might be happening. Check the Three Keys to Learning. Maybe you didn’t spend enough time with the information for your brain to make a pattern of it. Maybe notes you’ve made aren’t quite doing it for your brain. Maybe you haven’t adhered to the Learning Cycle and tested yourself sufficiently.
In any event you need to go back to your notes now and spend some more time with them, letting them sink in. Maybe you need to reorganise your notes in a way that your brain will like better. When you’ve done these things, check again that you know them now, and then of course, set yourself up to go back to them to test yourself tomorrow, and then follow the rest of the sequence as before.
You’ll see from the blogs that I’ve written that there’s plenty of research that associates REM and non-REM sleep with the process of memory. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that after your initial revision, that first day, how important it is to return to it within 24 hours and preferably after you’ve slept on it.
That’s why it’s important to use loose paper. Use plain paper, loose sheets of paper, which you store away in a ring binder. Because it might be that you need to bin lots of your original notes and rewrite them in some way, and if you’re using a beautiful exercise book you’ll be disinclined to do that.
It’s far more important to do what you need to do with your notes in order to remember your revision, than it is to have a beautiful piece of artwork which you would be loath to tear out of your book.
Make it plain paper too, because when you’re not confined to horizontal lines, you will be more likely to use shapes and space and colour and symbols, to draw pictures and arrows and connections. And the more you do those things, the more of your brain you’ll use and the easier you will find it to remember your notes when the time comes.
That’s one reason why I don’t really want you to use lined paper, because all those horizontal lines force you into a regimented approach, starting left and ending on the right with too many words on the page. It’s using more of your left brain and not as much of your whole brain as you could. On the other hand, plain paper encourages you to draw these symbols and pictures and words, using colour, patterns and shape etc. encouraging you to use as much of your brain as you can.
This means you’ll be using your brain the way that we know works well. We’re still learning about how the brain works. Relatively speaking we still know precious little about it. But what we do know we might as well use, to give ourselves the best chance of remembering our revision and passing exams easily.