Categories: Studying Techniques

It’s a sign! 

By  Lysette Offley

It's a sign! - photo of sign postIs it a sign of the times, that the on-going debate won’t abate!

Which debate? The one among scientists, about the brain and vision. Hey! I don’t suppose it’s the only one! But it is the one that we are going to, ahem, look at!

Because, while they agree that most of the information reaching the brain, enters through the eyes, some say that as much as 90% of data reaching it is visual.

Meanwhile, roughly 50% of all the brain’s nerve fibres, are to and from the retina, helping to process vision in some way. In other words, more brainpower is dedicated to the process of vision than the other four senses put together.

It’s also reckoned that between 65 and 80% of the population, prefer to use only their visual system to learn. Now, while that’s not everyone, perhaps we can all agree that it’s worth considering how to capitalise on this, since research has demonstrated again and again, that using our visual system can help us learn more efficiently.

First, remember that in order to learn something, we need to deliberately manipulate that information for ourselves. If we take a more passive approach, such as by simply reading and rereading the text, or listening to a lecture, or watching a video, there’s a much greater chance of forgetting the information – and very quickly, too.

It's a sign! - photo of painted arrow on roadSo it’s by creating revision notes, and being obliged to make conscious decisions about what to write and how to write it, that maximises the effectiveness of the time you spend learning.

By focusing on representing the information visually, you are giving your brain a very good opportunity to make a pattern of it and send it to your long-term memory. And of course, that’s what you want.

So what visual tricks can we use when we create our revision notes?

Let’s start with signs and symbols.

Whenever you can, represent a word or a phrase with a meaningful squiggle.

For example:

+ or &, instead of, ‘and’

+ve and -ve, instead of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’

=, instead of ’equals’

#, instead of ‘number’

> and <, instead of ‘is greater than’ and ‘is less than’

←, instead of, ‘from’It's a sign! - photo of hand heart


Your brain will recognise and decipher those signs and symbols instantly, allowing your notes to burn themselves much more easily into your memory, so that when you attempt to by see them in your mind’s eye, to recall them, they will pop out at you and help you to remember what that page of notes is all about.

And who wouldn’t find that useful?


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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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