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The important thing to remember when it comes to revision is that not two people are alike and will need to use different ways to revise but the following is true for everyone: Before you revise, you must learn! What I mean by that is that if you haven't learned or understood what you are supposed to know, you will not be able to revise it as it will make no or little sense.

There are many ways of revising and this page is here to offer some advice on different techniques I know some students use and which work for them.

Before you decide on a revision technique that works for you, it is often useful to know what sort of learner you are and the basic difference is called VAK which stands for Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. The theory is that everyone falls into at least one of these categories. You can access a simple VAK test to get an idea of your preferred learning style. The basic difference between the three is that a Visual learner will prefer seeing and reading, an Auditory learner will prefer listening and speaking but a Kinaesthetic learner will prefer touching and doing to learn.

Click here for different revision techniques. Once open, select the technique you want to use.

  • Bullet Points
  • Cards
  • Listening
  • Mind Maps
  • Social
  • Standards As Questions

Whichever way you decide to revise, you will invariably have some writing to do and it is not advisable for you to just copy out your books or notes. The only way that the information you need will stay in your head is if you convey the information in your own words. That does not mean that you should not use the correct terminology, key words are vital so you should use them as much as possible to become familiar with them.

When you write revision notes, you are best to stay clear of prose: just use statements in bullet form point, this means you have fewer words to remember. If you end up copying out your book and your notes, you are less likely to remember the information and you might as well just photocopy your book for all the good it will do.

Do remember that there is a distinct difference between revising and learning and revision notes are to jog your memory, not to learn from.

This is probably my favourite way of revising and the one that probably lends itself best to a subject like Biology where there is clear guidelines as to what needs to be learned. We are very lucky with the Biology syllabus, it is very prescriptive: it details exactly what you need to know in the standards. It can be used to address the three different learning styles so most people will therefore find this of some use.

Anki uses this system of revision and if you don't want to use it, the best way to use this system is by using 3"x5" index cards by writing the standard on one side and then what you need to know on the other.

You must limit yourself to one card per standard and use your own words! I can't emphasise that last point enough. You will learn much better if you use your own words but that does not apply to scientific terms, you have to know those exact words! When you write what you need to know it is not so that you can learn from it but merely to jog your memory. This links in to the statement at the top of this page, you must learn before you can revise. This will help the Visual learner and but also the Kinaesthetic learner to a certain extent as something is being made.

The Auditory leaner can also use these by getting someone to test them. You can give the pack of cards to someone and they can then test you in a random order. By listening to the things they are saying, it will help you remember the pointers for each standard. The advantage of this method is that you can use a relative or friend with no knowledge of Biology to test you.

The answers on the reverse of the cards don't have to be writing, they can also be drawings or sketches. A visual representation of a concept is a valid way to remember something and don't forget that a picture is worth 1 000 words (although it doesn't mean you can submit four pictures for your Extended Essay...)

This technique may seem risible to those of you who wouldn't enjoy learning this way but I have seen it make a remarkable different in some people. With current technology, it is even easier to do this than ever using computers. If you are an Auditory learner, you will find this useful.

The premise of this method is to record yourself reading the different concepts that you are attempting to remember. You then play it back over and over until you start to remember it. This only really works if you can cope listening to yourself over and over but for the right person, it really helps and makes a big difference.

Mind maps offer a useful way of seeing the link between key topics and principles. This is a lengthy exercise but it is effectively linking short statements to see how they interlink. This is very useful for Paper 2 as the long answer questions require you to link key topics by drawing from your whole knowledge.

The politically correct term for mind maps seems to change every week so I am sticking to this one, apologies if you disagree with the use of this term.

Drawing Mind Maps

The margin of error in this type of revision is virtually non-existent, it either works or it won't at all. If you do decide to try this method of revising, be mindful of how much you are actually learning. Some people may enjoy it because of the social aspect but won't actually learn using it so it should be used with caution. For some people, it is a valid and effective way of learning.

It works on the basis of people working together and it can be done in different ways such as peer help, working things out together, testing each other or simply being in close proximity so you have some help at hand when needed.

This is a simple method and forms the basis of the card revision method. Go through all the standards of the syllabus and treat each standard as a question. A standard will tell you what you need to know, not always the exact details of what is required but the general requirement. Look at the standard and list all the knowledge that is required for it.

This is a form of self-testing and how all the questions for the Anki decks on this website were created.