A while ago, someone told me that he had his next exam the following Tuesday and that he hadn’t started revising yet, and asked if I could help. There were in actual fact a couple of things I was able to suggest which did indeed help the situation, but we both acknowledged that he hadn’t left himself enough time to even read his course manual thoroughly, never mind try to learn the contents.
He certainly wasn’t going to be able to spend enough time with the information in the first place for his brain to make a pattern of it and send it to his long-term memory.
While he obviously had a time-challenge, many people inadvertently fail to address Key to Learning #1, because of the particular approach to revision they take. Maybe you can relate to one of these two examples.
Approach number 1:
Copying, word for word the content of your manual. Some people write down every word for fear of missing something important.
Approach number 2:
Reading and rereading the course manual. If you’ve ever ‘come to’, realising you haven’t taken in a single word of the last paragraph you’ve just read, and you’ve read it again, and again, to discover the same thing keeps happening, then you already know that this method sends your brain to sleep.
Both of these approaches are counter-productive. And yet, most people adopt one or the other through not having a better way of going about it.
Spending enough time with the information, Key #1, means getting involved with the information, actually manipulating the information actively. And that simply isn’t happening if you mindlessly copy or simply read your manual.
So what do I mean then? Well, you need to get involved with the information you are trying to learn. You can do this in many ways. For example, you can read out loud a section of your course manual, or the notes that you’ve made about it. You can act out the information you’re learning. Now, you might be thinking that the rather dry nature of what you’re learning does not lend itself naturally to acting. However, the information is all about real-life situations, and you will be delivering the information to your clients who have real-life scenarios and challenges. You can indeed put yourself in their shoes, or pretend to be delivering the information to them in an active and involved manner when you’re revising.
You need to get interested in what you’re learning. Focus on how important this information is to you and to your clients. Think about real-life situations that you are advising on. Think about the difference you will be making to yourself and to others by learning and understanding this material.
You need to spend only 20% of your time reading your course manual and a full 80% of your time manipulating the information, and you will be doing this automatically as you make your revision notes – Key #2: Making Brain-Friendly notes.