Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 21 - March 2007 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 4 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 850. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

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Welcome to the March issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter, Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month, as well as our regular Mind Mapping Tip and quote of the month, we give you some tips on exam taking.

March's Quote of the Month

"As long as learning is connected with earning,
as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams,
so long must we take this examination system seriously.
If another ladder to employment was contrived,
much so-called education would disappear,
and no one would be a penny the stupider."

Edward M. Forster (English author and critic 1879 - 1970)


For many more quotes click here.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Leave a blank space in the middle of your Mind Map if you get 'stuck' for a central image. The brain is very good at filling in 'gaps'. You will find that as you start drawing branches and filling in details your sub-conscious will come up with an appropriate centre.

For another 100 tips on Mind Mapping see "101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps" available from our online shop, click here.

Top Five Tips for Exam Taking

One of the most common questions we get asked is how to pass exams. The same main principles apply whether you're studying for GCSEs at school, an MBA at university or professional qualifications to become a lawyer, accountant or financial adviser. I have outlined some tips below:

•  Get hold of a syllabus

Tutors may be able to give you a copy of the syllabus. Failing that, if you call the examination board they will be able to send you a copy (usually for a small fee). The great benefit is that it helps you to put your studies into context and see how everything fits together. It is especially useful to Mind Map the Syllabus. This helps you to see connections between different parts and also makes sure that you have covered everything.

The syllabus will also explain how the exams will be structured. You should be fully aware with the rules and rubric well before sitting the exam. Do you get a choice of which questions you have to answer? What format of answer is required (essay, short answer, multiple choice)? How long is the exam? What are you allowed to take into the exam with you? What information are you provided with?

•  Use Brain Friendly Revision Techniques

Mind Map your lecture notes and relevant information from text books.

Use 'routes' to memorise lists, and specific data that you need to know. This could be dates, mathematical equations, etc.

You can use link memory systems for definitions, foreign vocabulary, etc.

It is also vital to review your Mind Maps and mnemonics (see the next tip).

•  Schedule your time

Make sure that you include regular breaks in your studies. (Never work for more than about 45 minutes at a time without a break). Even if you don't feel tired, a five or ten minute break will greatly improve your recall.

You also need to include appropriate reviews. Working in harmony with the brain so that you review material before it fades from memory. Five correctly spaced reviews should be enough to transfer the information into long term memory.

•  Practice

Get copies of past papers if you can. Your tutor can probably give you these or you may be able to get copies from college / university libraries or past students.

You need to set aside the correct length of time to answer the questions as if you were in the exam. This will give you several benefits: It will get you used to the structure of the exam and help you to get a feel for how much time you should spend on each question. Another benefit of doing past papers is that there are only a finite number of questions that can be asked and whilst you won't get identical questions in the exam you can be fairly confident that at least some will be similar.

•  Tackle Stress

One of the biggest factors that contribute to poor performance in exams is excessive stress. Knowing that you have prepared well will help. You can also apply specific relaxation techniques.

I can't go into full detail in the limited space of this newsletter - I've only given you a brief outline of these tips. If you'd like more detailed information on the techniques and examples of how they can be applied to your specific studies please contact us about courses or see 'The Student Survival Guide' available here.

That's all for this month. If you have any comments, suggestions or would like more information about our courses please feel free to contact me.