• Science Practical (7)

Interactive teaching and learning blog

Supporting learning through effective revision techniques

Supporting learning through effective revision techniques

May 15th 2016

5 revision techniques that work well and make a difference to learning – get the students thinking


How it works

Application in the classroom

1.      Practice Testing


Students keep testing themselves (or each other) on what they have got to learn. This technique has been shown to have the highest impact in terms of supporting student learning.

  • Create some flashcards for home learning, with questions on one side and answers on the other – and in the lesson get the students to pair off and keep testing themselves

  • Work through past exam papers – many can be acquired through exam board websites. Make sure they DIRT after marking.

  • Simply quiz each other (or yourself) on key bits of information

  • Create ‘fill the gap’ exercises for you and a friend to complete

  • Create multiple choice quizzes for friends to complete.


2.      Distributed Practice


Rather than cramming all of their revision for each subject into one block, it’s better to space it out – from now, through to the exams. Why is this better? Bizarrely, because it gives them some forgetting time. This means that when they come back to it a few weeks later, they will have to think harder, which actually helps them to remember it. Furthermore, the more frequently you come back to a topic, the better you remember it.

  • Flashcards over Time  - Get them to produce flashcards that are stored in seven dividers, they then revisit this information regularly until it is learnt.


  • Spaced repetition software – SRS is an effective testing tool


  • Use of Taboo cards.


3.      Elaborative Interrogation

One of the best things that students can do (either to themselves or with a friend) to support their revision is to ask why an idea or concept is true – and then answer that why question. For example;

  • In science, increasing the temperature can increase the rate of a chemical reaction….why?
  • In geography, the leisure industry in British seaside towns like Barry Island in South Wales has deteriorated in the last 4 decades….why?
  • In history, in 1929 the American stock exchange collapsed. This supported Hitler’s rise to power….why?

So, rather than just trying to learn facts or ideas by reading them over and over, students should get into the habit of asking themselves why these things are true.


Teachers can allot the students in pairs or groups and ask them to generate questions and answers for the facts to be learnt. Students are encouraged to read through the material to look out for clues to answer certain questions and to generate the abstract answers by self. Remind them that there is no wrong answer in this learning process and to work out each question and answer through reflection and discussion.

With time as students familiarize themselves with the strategy, students can frame the questions on their own and try to generate answers even when thinking in a second party perspective i.e. “why did the author describe the situation as dark and dreary?”


·         Speed dating

·         Hot seating

·         Topic experts.


4.      Self Explanation


Rather than looking at different topics from a subject in isolation, students should try to think about how this new information is related to what they know already. This is where mind- maps might come in useful – but the process of producing the mind map, is probably more useful than the finished product (not convinced about the focus put on colours, shape of branches etc.). So, they should think about a key central idea (the middle of the mind map) and then how new material, builds on the existing knowledge in the middle.

Alongside this, when they are solving a problem e.g. in maths, they should explain to someone the steps they took to solve the problem.


  • Use of hexagons to link information e.g.solo taxonomy


  • Dominoes


  • Tarsias.


5.      Interleaved Practice


When students are revising a subject, the temptation is to do it in ‘blocks’ of topics. The problem with this is, is that it doesn’t support the importance of repetition – which is so important to learning. So rather than revising in ‘topic blocks’ it’s better to chunk these topics up in their revision programme and interleave them.


  • Interleave starters and plenaries


  • Bingo


  • Multi choice


  • Blockbusters


  • Quizzes.


Filed under: Teaching Posted at 10:09

Leave a Comment

Register Now

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *