Skills Hub

Revision strategies and memory techniques

Keep yourself motivated

    • Vary the material you revise: from the difficult to the more familiar. This makes it more interesting, and small chunks are easier to remember. Use cards to make notes of key points.

    • Read your essays and other assignments to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Reflect on your feedback, both the positive points and those you need to improve. Repeat the former; try to change the latter!

    • Study alone for some of the time, but also in a group, if this suits you. Discussing ideas often helps to clarify them. Write down your ideas as this process also helps to clarify them.

    • Take regular breaks but be strict about returning to your revision. Even when you are on a break, your mind will keep working - often sorting out complex ideas!
    • Give yourself treats to keep you going: an evening at the cinema or cooking your favourite food.

    • Find out if your tutors have organised revision sessions and use these opportunities.

Check your understanding

    • Check your notes from reading and lectures and make sure they make sense. If you're unsure about a topic, do some more reading or ask your tutor for help.

    • Practise telling someone else what you have learnt to discover what you know and find out where the gaps are.

    • Set yourself mini-tests to check what you've learnt.

    • Make notes in your own words and make up your own examples. This will help you remember the material and ensure you really understand it.

Memory techniques

Mnemonics can be a helpful way to memorise facts. Use the first letter of a series of words to create a phrase that is easy to remember. For example, Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (colours of the rainbow in order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).

Association. Some students find it helpful to associate sounds or images with the information they are learning or to use notes / mind maps as a visual memory trigger.

Record information you need to remember and then play it back.

Organised notes. The way you organise your notes can be a helpful memory trigger. Think about a structure that helps you to understand the module.

Student revising

Use past papers

  • You can find past examination papers on the past exam papers website. However, make sure you read the instructions carefully in the exam. The format of the exam may be slightly different to previous years.
  • Practise planning the framework for your answers. Use lists to compare points for and against a statement. 
  • Try writing plans and full answers to past exam questions with and without your revision notes. 
  • Practise in exam conditions. Try answering a previous exam paper within the time. It is easier to take an exam ‘for real' if you've already done it for practice`for real' if you've done essentially the same thing `for practice' before.


Chloe and Donna

Second-year Geography

View Chloe and Donna's student perspective


Chloe: If revision classes are running and you think they will help, make sure you go to them. A lot of the time, on your Sussex account, they'll have past papers up as well so if you look through those just so you get an idea of what the layout is and what to expect and what questions there've been in the past, that sort of thing, that's quite useful.


Donna: The university also runs courses: tips for exams, essay writing tips, so they've usually got a couple of courses going on during the term so it's useful to go to them just to get the generic feeling of what you should be doing.

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