The Key Guide to Effective Learning
No matter what stage you are at in your studies – A-Level, undergraduate or postgraduate – you have no doubt had to revise for an exam or refresh your memory of classes at some point. If you’re a law student, you’ve most likely experienced reading three chapters for one lecture and to examine a range of sources for a seminar, above all if you’re in your penultimate or final year.
In the run up to assessments, do you ever find yourself wondering ‘how do I actually revise in a way that actually works?’ Are you fed up of reckless highlighting? Well, don’t worry, we have all been there! This article is here to give you some advice on overcoming daunting revision.
Firstly, it's imperative that you work out what type of learner you are. If you prefer posters and colours, you can consider yourself to be a visual learner like myself. If you’re the sort of student that prefers listening to information and learning through lectures and podcasts, you’re most likely an auditory learner. In addition, if you enjoy moving around, and acting out scenarios then its highly probable that you’re a kinesthetic learner. You may be familiar with these styles from being taught at college and/or your first year of university – if you aren’t, there are several online tests that can determine the type of learner that you are. Each type of learning will be examined in turn during this article to help you discover the best ways for your brain to absorb information.
Poster: use A3 sheets of paper and coloured highlighters or pens to organise important information in a creative way. You could make diagrams or lists - the way in which you create your posters is completely down to how creative and innovative you can be! Posters could then be stuck on your bedroom wallpaper, putting the informational literally ‘in your face’ every day. This may be very helpful when in an exam and you are struggling to remember that key point/example as you will likely remember the relevant poster that has been up on your wall for a considerable amount of time.
Revision cards: these do not only help with written exams but can also help with other forms of assessment, such as an advocacy assessment or for foreign language oral exams. Those who study law will understand the need for prompts during oral assessments such as a bail application.
Past papers: this method of effective visual learning is obvious, as practice does make perfect. Bug your tutors and ask if they can give feedback on completed answers - the more practice the better! This can also help with your nerves during exam periods as you will feel much more comfortable sitting an exam that you have practiced many times. Study groups: this method can be effective if you enjoy working in groups as it allows you to share your ideas with others and will perhaps teach you something that you overlooked or never even knew. Moreover, even for visual learners, seeing the ways in which other students articulate a key point may help with your understanding.
Study with a peer: talk about the information and share your knowledge whilst emphasising the use of your voice
Loud recitation: this is especially helpful when it comes to scripts and speeches as this strategy allows you to hear yourself, thereby helping you to cement all those key points and examples in your brain
Record classes: this is the most obvious strategy that an auditory learner may use and is helpful with revisiting lectures and seminars through listening to them again.
Create personal recordings: create your own recordings on different topics or subjects and listen to them when necessary.
‘Walk it out’: whilst reading out information, walk around and use gestures if helpful.
Use different places: try not to remain to one place when revising, keep moving and changing your surroundings. This may help with understanding different pieces of information in different environments, so perhaps study one module at home and another in the library.
Write it down: don’t forget to use the power of the pen! Writing out information in your own preferred form can assist in organising and memorising key points and examples.
Whiteboard: writing out brief key points on a whiteboard can help you memorise information. I’ve tried this method myself and it certainly works!
The above is a list of the main strategies for each respective type of learning, although there certainly are many other methods that would supplement the core revision strategies. After considering which category that you best into, it’s time to try out the various methods to see what works best for you. Finally, keep calm and carry on! A degree is not a death-trap. Instead, it seeks to bring out the best in you academically and as a person. There is no doubt that the skills you will learn in university will help in general life, not just in a career in your chosen field. Good luck!