The Journey of Year 11: Revision Techniques that quench the thirst

This week’s training focused on revision for Year 11 and the old adage of leading a horse to water, and its’ conundrum of how do you make the students thirsty? Intrinsic motivation is ideal, but our focus has been on strategies that will engage and inspire students to crack open the books and (re-)learn their stuff.

In January, The Life Skills Company worked with our Year 11 cohort in building their own independent skills to revise, and they came up with 12 strategies. On Monday, Jacqui and Katy led a staff session sharing these strategies, with the aim of building them into our day-to-day teaching.

  1. Map It – This technique is all about mind maps and the best ways of using them to make them work.

There are 2 options – the first looks like the more traditional way with the title of the revision in the middle and lines coming off from it.  The importance of this technique however, is that the lines must include capital letters over them with the part they are looking at in bold before they splinter off at the ends.

For example:

The students will also need to use colour, bold writing, underlining and pictures to make the information stand out and bold.

The alternative way of using the spider diagram would be more chronological from one side to the other using more straight lines and boxes however, still using colour, bold writing, underlining and pictures to make the information stand out and bold.

For example:

2. Journey it.  This technique is where students remember items or lists of information by placing them on a journey – preferably somewhere that is familiar to them.  This technique would work well for subjects that have lists of ingredients or indeed lists of chemicals that could go into an experiment.

The best sorts of journeys would be ones that are familiar to the students so they can picture it easily in their minds.

For example for a list of ingredients:

‘As I entered my front door, I encountered a huge red tomato that was pulsating and blocking the doorway.  I took my knife and cut the tomato in half and stepped through it into my hallway that seemed to be covered in long strands of spaghetti.  This made a slippery route to the couch where I fell into a pile of raw mince waiting to be cooked.’ (and so on)

  1. Index it. This technique is where students use their revision cards to transfer the key points of a topic/paragraph. The card should have as few words as possible and should include pictures/colour/diagrams/capital letters etc to make them stand out.  The card should only cover one topic and not more so that they do not get confused.

4. Story it.  This technique is where the students create a weird and vivid story using the key points.  This would work well for remembering steps of an experiment, ingredients or processes.

For example, remembering the eight principle that a Data Controller has a duty to abide by when using personal data.  They must make sure:

  1. Data must be collected and processed fairly and lawfully.
  2. Data must be collected for specific purposes and cannot be used in ways that are not compatible with those purposes.
  3. Data must be adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purposes.
  4. Data must be accurate and kept up to date.
  5. Data must not be kept longer than necessary.
  6. Data must be processed in accordance with the data subjects rights under the act.
  7. Data must be protected against unauthorised access and against accidental loss or damage.
  8. Data must not be transferred to a country that does not have appropriate data protection legislation.

The students would then put the key words from this into a weird and wacky story so that they remember them.

  1. Mnemonic it. This technique is where the students use the first letter of the key words to create a sentence to help them remember key information in order. This would work particularly well for students to help them remember chemical symbols or the order of the planets in the solar system. For example:

My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwich Usually Needs Plums.’ (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)


  1. Click it. This technique involves students creating a power point presentation about the key points of a topic or a unit of work. This technique would work best for subjects with a lot of information that would be needed to be recorded. Students can then use these visual aids to help them revise.
  1. Flip it. This technique is where students create cards that have a question on one side and an answer on the other. This would work best with a small flip book that is on a keyring that the students then could write short snappy questions and answers on.

For example:

‘What did Queen Victoria reign?  1837-1901’


  1. Timeline it. This technique is where the students have to put key points along a line in date order. This technique would work best for topics that have a chronological sequence such as the plot of a book, the events of a play, historical dates etc.Image
  2. Sing it. This technique involves students putting key information onto a popular song background. This could be used for any subject but it does involve some creativity and time if the students are going to do it properly. For example – one on Macbeth: could find some that are already made or you could get the students to make their own versions.
    1. Record it. This technique involves students recording themselves saying key points or key ideas and then playing it back to themselves. This technique would work well for audio learners.

    This technique does involve the students being confident enough to hear their own voices so will not work for them all.

    1. Post-it. This technique involves students putting key words/phrases onto post-it notes and then moving between them to learn them. This technique would work well if students have access at home to put the information onto their steps upstairs, around their bedroom/bathroom etc.  This technique can be used for any subject and can involve as little or as many post-it notes that the students can remember.

    For example, the students may want to put down the chapter titles of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ onto separate post-it notes and remember them as they go up and downstairs.

    1. Comic it. This technique involves students putting key information into a comic strip with images/pictures to go with the key events.   This technique would work in most subjects however, I would suggest best for subjects that need students to remember events/sequences in order.Ultimately, it is whatever works best for students, in enabling their confidence and learning in a sustainable way.