Student Toolkit

Make yourself a set of Pictionary cards. On one side of the card, write a key word or idea. On the other, draw a picture or cartoon to help you to remember it. You can then use your cards to test your memory – can you remember the key word or idea by looking at the picture?

To use this system you must learn the 20 “body-pegs” shown on the diagram.
This may take about 10 minutes but will prove to be really useful.

Quizlets are great for revising key vocabulary. The Quizlets provided by your teachers are a great start, but you are likely to remember the key words even better if you produce the Quizlet yourself.

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Socratic reading is an old technique that works very well and is a traditional approach to getting the most from reading. It is not quick and if you read at speed you are definitely not getting much from it!

Socratic reading means that you read slowly, questioning and interrogating the information you are reading to get maximum understanding from it. Part of Socratic reading is writing small questions in the text as you think of them while reading. For example, you could write down a question that you would ask if you were the examiner. Sometimes these questions are accompanied by your thoughts and answers to the question.

Socratic reading is a reflective process where you carefully analyse the information to see if you understand it, to see if you agree with it, or to see if it fits with other knowledge that you have. You might note down on the text how it has made you feel

This is a very powerful way of encouraging long lasting memories by using lots of connections to different locations, people, objects, colours, noises, smells, and humour. The effort put into creating the multiple connections is what makes this technique work so well.

Method of Loci: the basics

Step 1: You need to create a list of all of the things you are going to learn. Split the list into sections so that each section contains between 6-15 items. Each item is a ‘chunk’ of information.

Step 2: Pick a location with enough rooms to place all of the items in different places. The location should be somewhere you know really well. You are going to practice thinking of each item in that location until it becomes a permanent memory.

Step 3: Try to move clockwise around the location (i.e. always go left when you can). This rule makes it easier to know where you are in the journey through the Loci. In each room also follow the same rule of moving clockwise around the room. With practice this quickly becomes easier and you don’t even have to think about it. In addition, the structured approach will help you to focus on the content.

Step 4: Draw a map of the location and label where things have been placed. This helps you to build up a more complete memory of the Loci and the items.

Step 5: For each item make what is happening as vivid as possible. Make is weird and strange; make it funny; use all of your senses: colour, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Include your friends and family. Include famous people, songs, films, and characters. The more detailed you make the story for each item the more likely it is you will remember the item.

Step 6: Once you have created your Loci practice it at least once a week. Very quickly you won’t need any notes to help you. Try teaching your Loci to a friend, this has been very successful for many of our students. To boost the effectiveness of your Loci try teaching it to someone else.

The basic idea is to summarise information to be learnt.

Using Word, create a text box about half the page and start typing…

Use bullet points
Use bold for key words
Don’t put too much information on each card
Save them on your computer carefully—so that they can easily be referenced.

Print them out onto card, cut into A5 size

Later, print new copies but perhaps miss out key words/formulae etc for you to use as a test.

One of the best things that you can do (either on your own or with a friend) to support your revision is to ask why an idea or concept is true – and then answer that ‘why’ question. For example;

  • In science, increasing the temperature can increase the rate of a chemical reaction….why?
  • In RE, believing in life after death can influence how Muslims live their life… why?
  • In history, in 1929 the American stock exchange collapsed. This supported Hitler’s rise to power….why?

Rather than just trying to learn facts or ideas by reading them over and over try to get into the habit of asking yourself why these things are true.

This technique is pretty straightforward – you keep testing yourself (or work with some friends and test each other) on what you have got to learn.

Here are some different ways in which you could have a go at practice testing:

  • Create some flashcards, with questions on one side and answers on the other – and keep testing yourself.
  • Work through past exam papers.
  • Simply quiz each other (or yourself) on key bits of information.
  • Create ‘fill the gap’ exercises for you and a friend to complete.
  • Create multiple choice quizzes for friends to complete.
Let pictures help you remember more than words with this technique.


  1. Find a paragraph of text and highlight the main keywords (avoid highlighting every other word in the paragraph)
  2. Find or draw images that represent the words that you have highlighted
  3. Replace the highlighted words in the text with the images. Display  this around your house or revision area – on the stairs or even in the bathroom. You will be reading and remembering the paragraph and the importance of the images
  4. After a few days of having the information displayed around your house, remove all of the words and just place the images next to each other in their place in a line
  5. Display the images around your house again, but this time ‘read’ the images out loud
  6. Close your eyes and visualise the order of the images. ‘Read’ the paragraph out loud multiple times each day
  7. When you are in the exam just close your eyes and remember the images in order. The words will come to you easily and you can breathe a sigh of relief as you ace the question in the exam paper


Just remember to break large chunks of text into smaller paragraphs and don’t try to remember too many words that aren’t essential to the process or formula.

You can view an example of this visual learning revision technique here.

Write facts on index cards, in colour, and stick them in prominent places around your home, eg, next to the kettle or on the bathroom mirror.

Look at them and say them to yourself every day.

When you think you know them, put them on a pile of cards that you will later test yourself on, and put new facts in the prominent places.

Try the ‘layering’ technique for remembering complex information.

First, learn the easiest and simplest facts or ideas about a topic. Use these to provide a foundation before adding gradually more complex information, layer upon layer. Working in this way means that, if you get anxious in your exam, you should still remember the foundation layer of the material. When you start making notes about that, your memory of the higher layers will flood back.

Mind maps are a good way of organising and simplifying information and seeing connections between
the different parts of a topic. They can be an effective memory trigger because, often, it is the actual act
of drawing out a mind map that you recall in an exam.

Force yourself to condense your revision notes down to key words. Use colours and images to help make the information meaningful and memorable. Stick up your mind maps around your home, and look at them throughout your revision and exam period.

Short stories can be used to help your brain absorb bigger chunks of information.

You need to break the information down and make up a story linking together each piece of information.

For example, if you need to memorise a complicated chemical formula, you could name the molecules with human names beginning with the same letter (Carol = Chlorine, for example) and make up a little story in which the actions of the characters mirror those of the molecules in the formula. This can be a really effective method of learning trickier, drier information, as it helps to bring it to life a bit and gives it a more human touch that makes it easier to relate to.

Putting information into a rhyme can make it easier to remember.

Here’s an example to help you memorise the order of the planets:


Close to the Sun, hottest and between us
Are the burning fireballs of Mercury and Venus.

Next come homely Earth then Mars, then gas giants Jupiter and Saturn –
Are you starting to see a planetary pattern?

Icy Uranus and Neptune follow, and, bringing up the rear,
Humble Pluto – no longer a planet – sheds a tear.

1. Visualise a building or road. Fill your mental image with details, such as what you see in each room or what’s on either side of the road.

2. Mentally connect an image of each of the features you see – such as a chair in your imagined house, or a tree by the side of your imagined road – with a manageable chunk of information (such as a chemical formula). Think about the two together in depth and make sure you’ve really learned the information and its associated image.

3. To recall the information in the exam, simply retrace your steps through the building or down the road and pick out the objects you’ve associated with the information.

4. When you want to add additional information to your memory bank, you can simply add another room to your imaginary building or take a turn off your imaginary road that will be associated with this new information.

Paper chains is a great strategy to support you in developing your extended writing, particularly with regard to the point, evidence, explanation structure.

Prepare by cutting up some sheets of coloured paper into slim strips and find some glue or sellotape.

Use a different colour for each part of your answer, for example:

Red – Point
Blue- Evidence
Green- Explanation
Purple- Connectives

Find an exam question you want to practice answering.

Write the sentences of your answer onto the relevant coloured strips of paper and build up your answer as a paper chain, gluing or sellotaping together the ends of each strip.

Once you have tried out the paper chain technique, try to make a web by linking different strands of your answer together, creating a paper ‘web’ rather than a simple chain.

This technique will help you to remember quotations which are essential to support analysis when studying English Literature; however, it could be transferable to many other subjects to help you to recall information.

Lots of people find that they can remember song lyrics from when they were very young and yet they can’t always recall conversations that they had last week. Why? Because there’s something about rhyme, rhythm and a good melody that helps us commit things to mind.

Choose a focus – for example ‘How Shakespeare introduces the character of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 Scene 4’. Then choose your own song to rewrite the lyrics to in order to help you to remember key facts and quotations. For example, the following lyrics replace those from ‘Do you Want to Build a Snowman?’ from Disney’s Frozen phenomenon:

Do you want to know ‘bout Queen Mab?
She’s in Mercutio’s ‘mad’ speech
He brings her up Act 1 Scene 4
To show us more
It’s pretty kind of deep.
At first it’s all quite funny
But then it’s not
She’s a fairy that visits you!
Do you want to know ‘bout Queen Mab?
(But it’s not just all about Queen Mab)
Ok. Why?

The speech shows what Mercutio’s like
He’s unpredictable that’s why
He talks of “grasshoppers” and “spider’s webs,” “long-spinner’s legs”
“That dreamers often lie!”
He gets quite dark and frightening
With his talk of sex
Of violence, of “hags” and “blades.”
Do you want to know ‘bout Queen Mab?
It makes Mercutio seem quite sad.
“This is she-”

And this example is from Health and Social Care (to the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep)

Children benefit
From inclusive practice.
Because they have
Plenty of chances.
Range of opportunities,
Range of equipment
Builds a can-do attitude
And ensures acceptance.

Many thanks to Mrs Igoe for recording this track! Click here to hear her performance.

This strategy is helpful for remembering vocabulary or short facts.

Use an A4 sheet folded in half length-ways.

The top section is cut to create lift-up flaps.
On the top write the clue or question, underneath the flap write the answer:

“resurrection” – the belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.
Matthew 22:39 – “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
Pictures, symbols, words, quotations and other prompts can all be use

This technique is really simple and it works for language learning and any fact and information learning.  The brain loves it!

1  Clear your mind.  No music or distractions.

2  Read and say key info out ALOUD.

3  Say it several times.

4  Vary the speed at which you say it.

5  Vary the volume at which you say it.


7  Write what you have now nearly learnt.

8  Check.

Force yourself not to take a sneaky look!  It has to be a little struggle for your brain to retain.  There’s no cheating or ‘saying it in your head instead’ or skipping steps.  You may not like this – but it works.  Don’t listen to anyone who tells you there are any easy answers to learning and revising.  No pain: no gain!


In the 30:5:1 Reduce the Key Words technique you identify a topic and then write down 30 key words. You they decide which are the top 5 key words from the original 30, and then, finally, from the 5 key words, the one key word for the topic.

This technique will help you to review a lesson earlier in the day, prepare for a forthcoming lesson, or revise a topic for an exam. You can also use your lists to refer back to on the night before an exam.

We know that constantly summarising / refining information is one of the best ways to revise.

You can download the template below

We know that constantly summarising / refining information is one of the best ways to revise.

In the Revision Diamond, you identify a topic and put the most important aspect of that topic in the top diamond and then the next 8 aspects in order down the page to the least important in the bottom diamond. This will help you to review a lesson earlier in the day, prepare for a forthcoming lesson, or revise a topic for an exam. You can also use these to refer back to on the night before an exam.

You can download a template below

In most examinations, you have a defined time to plan and write an essay or a long answer. Using a structure for planning this answer  is helpful for both revision and for use in the final exam.

In the “Forty Sentence Essay Plan”, you write the essay title in the centre box and then identify 8 sections or paragraphs of the essay and write those along the thick branches connected to the title box. You then identify (in note form) 5 sentences for each section/paragraph. The whole plan takes about five minutes, after which you write a sentence per minute for 40 minutes, sticking to the plan, to complete your essay without wasting a second!

Using this technique can help you to build up answers which you can look back on and also help you to learn time management.

Se below for a template.


This technique is useful in helping you to identify key words from a topic and practice spelling them. It can also be used to help recall of key factual pieces of information.

You will need a square piece of paper to make your fortune teller.


Step One
Choose 4 words – they might be words you’d like to learn to spell, or key words you need to learn from the topic. My fortune teller is going to be about angles so I’ll use
These words will go on the outside of the fortune teller.

Step Two
Now choose 8 questions, mine are going to be about angles.
e.g. what is the name of this pair of equal angles?

then on the inside, write the answer.

Alternative ideas

An alternative is to make a cube (or a tetrahedron or any other 3D shape) and write questions on each of the faces. Here are some templates

Use this technique to help you to recall key words, facts or sequences or to remember spellings

A mnemonic can be a song, rhyme, acronym, image, or a phrase to help remember a list of facts in a certain order.

Spelling example


big elephants can always upset small elephants

Geography example – passage of a depression

Cold Air (CA) – Warm Front (WF) – Warm Sector (WS) – Cold Front (CF) – Cold Air (CA)

Chesterton Army Went Fighting With Sticks, Coleridge Fled Cowardly Away!

Music example – for analysing a piece of music

Harmony, Dynamics, Texture, Tonality, Instrumentation, Melody, Rhythm

Hello, Dearie! Tell Trevor I‘M Ready

Use this technique to help you to remember a diagram/image.

Paper version

Draw the diagram/image that you want to remember or find a copy online and print it out.

Cut out the pieces randomly. I suggest you use card, rather than paper, for durability. If you can’t print onto card, print onto paper and then stick the paper onto the card before cutting it up, or print onto paper and laminate the paper.

Challenge yourself to recreate the diagram/image from the pieces as quickly as you can.

Online version

Find an online copy of the diagram/image that you want to remember or draw it on your iPad and take a screenshot.

Add the diagram/image file to and it will create a jigsaw puzzle for you.

Challenge yourself to complete the jigsaw puzzle as quickly as you can.

Don’t forget to share your online puzzles with your friends and your teacher.

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