We all learn in different ways – some people are ace at memorising text, some people re-write song lyrics to incorporate the dates of the American War of Independence, and some have to recite French verbs to their dog/Mum/neighbour.
Visual learners are people who retain information most effectively in the form of images – that could be diagrams, infographics, drawings or photographs. Despite the common misconception, being a visual learner doesn’t mean that you necessarily a ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’ person – and it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ‘right sort of brain’ for studying the sciences.
Here at Save My Exams, we strongly believe in the power of strong visuals in aiding one’s understanding of complex scientific concepts – which is why we’ve invested heavily in the production of professional graphics to accompany our revision notes.
Even if you wouldn’t class yourself as a particularly visual learner, this blog post is going to show you exactly how you can use our graphics, diagrams and infographics to take your Physics GCSE revision to the next level. Who knows, it might even inspire you to create some images of your own!
Start in the shallow end
If you’re new to the practices of visual learning, it’s important that you gradually ease into them! Your brain is an incredibly adaptive machine, but you’ll need to take small steps when you first try the new techniques, so that your brain is able to begin the rewiring process which results in establishing habits.
Because of this necessity, we recommend that you start practicing visual learning techniques as early as possible – you do not want to leave this to the last minute, as your brain won’t be able to effectively process and retain the images without prior training.
Pick your battles
As much as we love image-based learning, it’s not practical or time-efficient to use this method for every single sub-topic of every single topic on your syllabus. Instead, look through the topic list and choose the five topics which you struggle with the most.
These are the topics which you should turn to visual methods to revise, as you already know that your current methods are not working. Mastering these topics visually will afford you the most benefit in the grand scheme of things.
If you feel like you’re on a roll after you’ve applied your visual learning techniques to these topics, keep on going with the next five challenging topics on your syllabus! But be wary of overloading your brain with too much imagery – you’re not a digital camera.
Remember you don’t need a photographic memory to revise visually
There’s no conclusive evidence that the ‘photographic memory’ phenomenon (the ability to take an instant mental ‘snapshot’) actually exists, and most people who swear by visual learning methods do not claim to have the photographic memory trait.
You can teach yourself and practice to become a highly skilled visual learner!
Use this strategy
Okay – now to the really crucial part: how exactly do you master this ‘visual learning’? Well, once you’ve chosen your topic, you need to find (or create) a top-quality visual representation. In our opinion, you won’t find anything more effective, clear or up-to-date as the Save My Exams GCSE Physics and GCSE Chemistry illustrations. Keep an eye out too, as more are on their way.
The next step is to save or bookmark the image (or print, or create your own version) so that you can look at it repeatedly and regularly in the early stages of committing it to memory.
Next comes the real mental effort – you need to exercise your brain’s visual cortex.
- Working in a clockwise direction from the left top corner, examine the image closely and carefully
- Check your understanding – do you know the theory behind the image?
- If you don’t, refer to the corresponding revision notes – it will be very difficult to remember the information if you don’t understand it in the first place
- Once you’re ready, take a blank sheet of paper and try to recreate the image
- Check your accuracy, and correct any blanks or errors
- Repeat the process until you can recreate the image with no errors
Don’t stop there!
Numerous studies have proven that in order to truly cement new knowledge, we need to review it regularly over a period of days, and then semi-regularly over a period of weeks. If you keep this up, the information will stay lodged in your memory for a significant period of time with no need for further review.
This means that you need to go back to your image every day for three days after you first learn it- carrying out the draw-check-correct process. Then you can cut this down to twice a week for the next three weeks (increase the frequency if you notice your error rate creeping up). This might sound onerous, but you just need to add a 15 minute extra slot in your daily revision schedule.
You should now feel armed with all the necessary knowledge and confidence to start your visual learning journey. Good luck – and don’t forget to let us know how you get on!
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