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These are simple yet effective strategies you can share to benefit all students. 

1. Memory -Share with students the models of how we remember information .

2. Retention and Time -Ensure students understand about the forgetting curve and the implications for them with their revision.

3. Automaticity and Mastery - That is our goal!

4.Explore and share 'effective' revision strategies with students and encourage them to find out what works best for them!

5.Give students the knowledge, tools and strategies to enable them to revise effectively.

6.Think about wellbeing with revision - space, time, healthy eating and sleep are all vital to effective revision

7. Provide time and  space to revise effectively within school.

8. Share effective strategies with colleagues, tutors and parents.


Want to find out more?

Interested in the research?

Duncan R. D. Mascarenhas and Nickolas C. Smith, ‘Developing the performance brain: decision making under pressure’ (Performance Psychology 2011, pp. 245-67) 


Rosenshein, B (2012) Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies that All Teachers Should Know

Available via pdf here 


Prefer to watch?  

Understand the science behind revision -


Retrieval Practice with Kate Jones


Metacognition with Elizabeth Adams


TeacherTalk: Memory and Retention for Effective Revision

Welcome to our educational blog. Here we explore all things pertinent to education, discuss current topics and provide tips, from research and educational experts, to aid practice.



With student exams and mocks, it’s clear that effective revision strategies are crucial in ensuring memory is retained - but what does ‘effective’ look like and how does this link to memory research? 

This blog covers the research around memory before moving on to revision strategies for all. 

The Research 

Whilst there are numerous models of memory from academic research across the years, here, we will focus on The Working Memory Model by Baddeley & Hitch (1974). Essentially, based on this model and others, we know that: 

1. The working-memory has a limited capacity to store information 

2. The working-model adds to the previous short-term memory model, giving different systems to different types of information we try to remember (multi-store model). 

3. Memory, via this model consists of: the: phonological loop; the visuospatial sketchpad; the central executive, and the episodic buffer.

4. These components to memory, allow us to process different stimuli e.g. Phonological Loop is via audio information.

Additional key research:

5. It’s believed that we need to process information seven times for it to pass into our long-term memory.

6. Information, once in our long-term memory fades (Ebbinghaus's Forgetting Curve: 1980 but still relevant to research today). Two of the factors that influence this are: Time and Retention (with new memories having the biggest drop in retention). The way to combat this is….Reviewing and reinforcing information via effective revision leading to - Automaticity and Mastery.

What is Automaticity and Mastery and why is it important?

Research by Duncan et al., (2011) explores the concepts of automaticity and mastery with regards to memory. Essentially, automaticity is when recall becomes effortless.1

Through revision, we want students to achieve mastery of memory, where recall becomes effortless. Mastery of memory allows individuals to continually build upon their knowledge and skills, adapt to new challenges, and excel in their chosen fields. 

So what does effective revision consist of?

It’s important to note here that there isn't a single set of "most effective" revision strategies that apply universally to all students, as the effectiveness of revision techniques can vary from person to person - but what we do know is that some strategies have been found to be more effective based on the memory models they incorporate, within their techniques. 

 We spoke to Kevin Ashby, Assistant Head at Putteridge High School about the information he shares for effective revision: 

1. The Research - Share memory recall, retention research and the reality that cramming for exams achieves little. 

2. Retrieval - Teach students about retrieval practice and how to retrieve information from their memories.

3. Review information - Share strategies to review what is taught in lessons at time intervals e.g. Immediately after, 4 hours later, 1 week later and 1 month later to structure and stage their revision. 

4. Revision Timetables - Provide students with a timetable template and the knowledge of how to complete this so that they can effectively and strategically plan their revision over time. 

5. Environment - Discuss the importance of an effective, comfortable and calming space to revise in. Away from distractions - where they feel comfortable. 

6. Strategies - Share revision techniques to aid memory: mind maps / images / cue cards / revision clocks / diagrams / recording yourself / quizzing / podcasts 

7. Big to Small - Start big in terms of the amount of information you are trying to retain and then continually reduce this content whilst ‘remembering’. 

8. Breaks - Take regular, short breaks- Rest time is proven to increase effectiveness.

9. Past Papers - Use your books/folders/past papers and tests to ensure you know exactly what your exams, each paper and question will look like.

10. Peer Support - Work with a peer and revise together to check your understanding and test each other. 

11. Wellbeing - Eat healthily and sleep well to fuel your mind and body to be the most effective it can be. 

12. Share - Share the revision strategies with fellow teachers, tutors and parents so everyone is on the same page and understand what ‘effective’ revision looks like. 

13. At School - Where possible, give students time, space and resources to revise in a calm space at school.

To conclude

Revision is key when preparing for exams and tests but our memory is limited. Through revision, we want students to achieve mastery of memory, where recall becomes effortless. Whilst we know that ‘effective’ revision is different for  individuals, there are some techniques that are proven to be more effective than others.   As a result, revision must be strategic, purposeful and unique to each individual. Our students need to find what works for them, through strategies rooted in research and retain the key information necessary for exam success!

CTSH 'Together towards excellence, ambition and inspiration'