Revision Techniques


There are many different techniques for revision and as always, it is about finding the one that works best for you. You may like to consider “modelling” – a NLP (neuro linguistic programming) concept which suggests that if there already exists a successful means of achieving an end, it could be constructive to adopt it.

Perhaps you have a friend or colleague whose forte is passing examinations? If so, find out what it is they do to achieve success. If they have a particular approach to revision, find out about it and consider whether you might “model” it and use it for your own success.

Condensing materials

When beginning revision, it is sometimes difficult to imagine just how to condense down an entire study text or set of course materials into something that will become a revision aid.

A good strategy is to take bite sized chunks of course material (paragraphs or sections), skim read them and then make concise but meaningful, one sentence notes or bulleted points that summarise the content.

From here, you can organise your sentences or points into lists, onto cue cards, audio tapes etc and re-access them whenever you need to.

If you regularly recall the listed information (the frequency depends on your memory and how often it needs refreshing) and repeat the list of points to yourself (whether written or spoken – whichever suits you) you will be able access the information you need during your examination.

Making lists

The way you organise your notes into lists is important. It can help to bundle items together in small, logical groups. It may be useful to number the lists and/or the bullet points, perhaps using colours or visual images that will help you recall information later.

You might also consider the use of acronyms when making lists, by picking out the first letter of a key word or a name. If you can come up with a memorable, even quirky acronym, all the better. 

Learning styles

In our “How to Improve Your Study Skills” lesson we introduced the subject of preferred learning styles. These apply to revision too, so before you select a revision technique, consider how you are most able to recall information.

If you are an auditory person, you might revise your list of sentences/points whilst listening to a particular piece of music so that when you need to access the information, remembering the song might help. Or you could organise your notes by using phrases or poems that you can recite thus producing sounds.

If you are a visual person, specific visual examples can help as with the example in the Making Lists section, as can diagrams, mind maps, posters or post-it notes arranged around your home or workspace.

For those who have a kinaesthetic learning style, designing and printing study cards makes a strong impression on the brain and allows active engagement. Similarly, group revision may be constructive as this enables active participation and involvement.

Further, if it is possible to attend revision sessions run by local institutes, employers and so on, these can be very valuable and constructive, particularly if you do well in a group environment.

Working on past examination papers and mock papers is the ultimate revision activity and requires a kinaesthetic approach. We will examine this technique in the next section.


Select a section of your current or planned study text and apply the condensing/listing methods explained in this section.

Make a mental note of how well this worked for you and how you could improve the technique when revising “for real”.