Mind maps as a studying and revision technique

Mind maps can be a life saver if you are deciding to revise well in advance or even last minute. This article will show how you can use a mind map to optimise your studying periods and enhance your ability to revise.

Mind maps are a great studying technique because they make recall a lot easier. Part of making a mind map is linking different ideas together, by making associations like these; it means that the information is easier to understand, this is because you can see exactly how everything relates and where it stems from.

This creates something that is known as ‘trigger words’, the idea of this is that when you think of these words, you will automatically remember all the information linking to it because of the way you have learnt it. By making a mind map you are creating ‘trigger words’ which are linked to more information that can be recollected quickly and easily. This proves that mind maps are such a good method for studying as well as revision because they aid recall and make memorising much easier.

The use of mind maps engages your whole brain as they clearly lay out all the material in a way that allows you to see the whole picture. Sub branches allow you to sort information under different ‘trigger words’ which show how different information all links together. Seeing these connections allow your brain to understand the material better, this makes it more valuable so you remember it better. 

Another good quality of mind maps is that they are easier to understand than just a block of writing or even bullet points. This is because they strip all the information down to the bare essential. This makes revision a lot less daunting because it lets you see exactly what you need to know without all the extra waffle.

This technique also simplifies the information you need to know, this is because you are putting the material in your own words. In doing so, the work seems less complicated as well as scary, and avoids overwhelming you as writing notes does. It is a great idea to have everything laid out which is where making mind maps comes in handy.

Writing notes is a good idea for recapping after a lesson, but if you really want to challenge what your brain knows then making mind maps is the way. They force you to reach further into your mind to recall the information you have learnt. During recall, you are reinforcing the information you know, this is because you are repeating the material which aids you in memorisation.

Imagine. It is the day before your exam and only then do you decide that it would be a good idea to revise. Here is what you do. Make a mind map, from your memory just write everything you remember from a topic, the important thing is that you DO NOT look at your books or notes. Create branches and sub-branches to stimulate your brain; this will show you how much you actually know and what it is you need to read over more thoroughly.

In making this mind map, you are forcing your brain to recollect information that you previously knew, and thus the material is reinforced. This may seem like a silly thing to do, but it will shock you to see how much you actually know.

I find that this technique lowers my anxiety because it makes the information appear less daunting and even easier than you would previously think. This is the smart way to revise last minute, and can even be used for study sessions throughout the year because it shows exactly what you need to go over.

You are tired and do not want to do anything let alone revise, give it 5 minutes. You will be shocked to find how such a short amount of time can make such a big difference.  The longer you persevere, the easier you will find recalling the information, and the more you will remember.

Do not be discouraged just because you are finding it difficult, this means that you will remember it better later on because it is requiring more effort. It may even convince you to revise earlier next time.

It does not have to be a work of art. Be as messy and all over the place as you need because it does not matter if other people cannot understand it. You just need to be able to. This means that you do not have to worry about boundaries, and may even find being creative is easier.

Your mind map is unique to you. The words are your words. The points you make are yours. This means that you can understand it the best which is why it is such a good technique for revision and studying.

If you have the time it is a good idea to colour code your mind map. This makes learning from your mind map a lot easier. Grab some highlighters. Use one colour to highlight everything you are convinced you fully understand and do not need to go over in depth. Use another highlighter for information that you know but think would be a good idea to look at. Then use one last colour to highlight material that you do not know and need to go over in a lot of depth. By colour coding your work you are able to sort out exactly where your weak spots are.

Using this method avoids wasting time. You get straight to the point and you aim directly at your weak spots rather than the work as a whole. Also, by sorting you mind map like this, you are organising your work load which is important if you are a student. It is already hard enough to start studying, revise smart.

Draw pictures. It is good for recall. Images are an efficient way to learn because they grab you attention and explain tough topics through pictures. 60% of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing. As humans, we are drawn to pictures. We analyse it within a very short period of time, learning a lot about it straight away. Bright colours also catch our attention easily; this is because our brains see it as something different, something that is more important.

Using images alongside bright colours means that your brain will be able to remember it more easily. If you link the pictures to material you need to learn, you will find that it is much easier to understand and recap.

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