We tend to remember information, without making any extra effort, if it is presented in small chunks. Think about anything that you have attempted to learn, whether for your exams or for any other aspect of your life, and you’ll know that this is true.
It’s also true that we have an infinite capacity to learn information, providing we have the opportunity to learn it in small enough chunks.
So take advantage of that when you revise for your Financial Services exams.
There are two things you can chunk. One is the information itself and the other is time.
When you are tackling a particular topic, take an overview. For example, look at a section of your course manual and see how that section has been set out – how it is divided up. Notice the subtitles delineating the sections. Notice how those sections are further subdivided, and then, if necessary, as you read through each short section, make a conscious effort to understand the different elements of information that constitute it.
These will become your short chunks, which you will then tackle one at a time.
Especially since you are already busy with a full-time day job, it’s useful to know that the easiest way to remember your chunks of information, is to tackle each in short bursts of time. Of course, it’s much easier for you to fit in to your already busy day, 10 minutes here, 30 there. And it’s gratifying to know, that by attempting to learn this way, you will be increasing your efficiency.
You need to be pretty well-organised to maximise your time this way. And that brings us straight on to the second thing you can do.
2. Keep a record
Make a list of the chunks of information you need to learn for the topic you are embarking upon. The name of these chunks will come from the headings and subheadings in your course manual, and, if you have further subdivided, you will have to give some chunks titles of your own.
By doing this, you will be able to see the size of the current challenge. And as you learn each chunk, you will be able to tick it off on your list, and enjoy the progress you are making. Research shows us that we become more encouraged and motivated when we can measure the progress we’re making.
3. The test
When you have learnt a small chunk of information, for ultimate retention, you need to test that you still know it, on a regular basis, and according to the Learning Cycle.
So when you have finished creating your revision notes for a particular chunk, turn your piece of paper over and make up a question you can ask yourself – to test that you still know the information on the other side.
When you come back to check that you still know this chunk of information, instead of looking at the revision notes you’ve made, you can instead read your test question, answer it, and only then turn over the page to double check your answer against the revision notes you made.
If you look at your revision notes before testing yourself, all you are doing is testing your short-term memory and that won’t help you in the exam.
Human beings are hardwired to forget. Evolutionarily speaking, it’s a very useful skill, which has kept us alive and safe. But that’s no good to us if we’re trying to retain information to pass exams.
Fortunately, more recent understanding of how our brains work has allowed us to recognise the very simple actions we need to take in order to retain information, so instead of forgetting 80% of what you’ve learnt, and most of that within 24 hours, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to retain 80% and more of what you’ve learnt. And not just for the exam, Follow the Three Keys to Learning and you’ll remember what you’ve worked so hard to learn – forever.
For more information on how to maximise the efficiency of your revision, watch my webinar.