- neuron fractal 1 (Photo credit: Anthony Mattox)
Today we continue from the previous post on revision. Last post we looked at the factors that can influence
how you implement your revision program.
Today we are going to look at how to put together a revision program
Neuronal dendrite formation (Photo credit: TheJCB)
We have already established that our minds can only handle between 5 and 9 connected facts at any one time, and that it is a good idea to study those number of facts in one sitting, with a break between each study session. Now that we have confirmed these points, let's now look at some of the theory behind revision.
When we learn a chunk of facts, our neurons immediately build new dendrites in a region of the brain where it can connect the new information with old information. The research that showed us that information also showed us that if we leave that information as is and don't revise it soon, those dendrites will disintegrate. But, frequents bouts of brief rest during your study sessions are important to replenish the stores of neurotransmitters in the gaps between your neurons. Even more important though, is that the most amount of build-up of these chemicals takes place during sleep - and especially during your deep sleep, rather than during "dream sleep" (or Rapid Eye Movement or REM Sleep). So, that is why it is absolutely essential
that you get at least seven hours sleep a night
, and that there is no such thing as "catching up on your sleep" from a studying point of view.
So, let's look at some guiding principles that you can follow when drawing up your own revision timetable.
1. Your first revision must be immediately after the rest period that follows the study session itself. So, if you have just learned a chunk of information related to Acute Myocardial Infarction and have just had a three minute rest, revise that same information, but...
2. The first revision must be done in a totally different way to the way you studied the material to begin with. This is where creativity comes in handy! If your study session has employed mainly drawing and talking, when you revise, use singing and acting. This first revision session may end up being longer than your original study session, but don't stress! All your subsequent revision sessions will be much shorter!
3. Try and do a second revision the same day before you go to sleep. As mentioned above, your dream sleep is the critical time during which the brain transforms that newly imbibed information into long-term memories by building and extending the dendritic branches.
Photo by Bob Jacobs, Laboratory of Quantitative Neuromorphology Department of Psychology Colorado College http://www.ColoradoCollege.edu/IDProg/Neuroscience/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Revise the next day.
5. Revise the next week.
6. Revise a month later.
7. Revise a week before a test or exam.
8. Revise the day before the test or exam.
Easy? Good. Now start getting creative with a calender!