Ebbinghaus’s ‘Forgetting Curve’ shows us that we forget rapidly if we don’t reuse or recall the information. By reviewing learning at regular intervals, we slow the rate of forgetting and are able to recall more when needed. This is known as ‘spacing’ and has a strong evidence base for its effectiveness.
We recommend that you plan the spacing of your revision by using a timetable to spread each subject out so that you study in small chunks and build in opportunities to revisit what you are learning, rather than ‘cramming’ one subject the night before a test or exam.
Every time we retrieve something from our memory, we strengthen our ability to retrieve it again in the future. When you simply read through notes or a revision guide, you aren’t retrieving anything from your memory, and therefore the information will be difficult to recall when you need it. You should therefore be reviewing notes for only a short amount of time before doing a more active recall. For example, you could use flashcards or quizzes to practice recall of key factual knowledge; recreate mind maps, or plan answers to practice questions from memory for more complex skills and understanding.
Revision Activities PDF
The Memory Clock
The Memory Clock helps you to do both of the things above and demonstrates how you can space your revision into hour-long blocks and ensure that you spend at least half your time actively recalling information from memory.
The idea is to limit passive approaches like re-reading to only 15 minutes of each hour of revision time, with 30 minutes spent actively recalling information from memory in a range of tasks (these do not have to be practice exam questions but can be any activity that involves active recall). Finally, the last 15 minutes are for reflection, reviewing the session, and planning the next steps.
Memory Clock Guidance PDF
Remember that sleep is vital as it’s when your brain processes and embeds new information in your memory. And remember that multitasking places a strain on working memory, reducing the brain’s ability to focus and ultimately raising stress levels.
- get plenty of sleep!
- Put away phones and other distractions so your brain isn’t ‘switch tasking’ and can focus 100% on revision
- Make a timetable that spaces your revision of each subject
- Use the memory clock to ensure at least half your time is spent on active recall
- Revisit areas you had forgotten in future study sessions
- Encouraging your child in good sleep habits and helping them to remove distractions when revising at home
- Checking your child’s revision timetable or helping them to create one
- Testing your child’s recall by using a revision resource they have created (eg flashcards)
- Helping your child to study in short blocks of time using the memory clock