Students' Corner

Revision made easy

Young male students studying in a library
Photo: © Antonio Diaz / 123RF Stock Photo

As a student, you may keep listening to lectures, reading books, writing assignments, and even taking down notes but you forget most of what you learned within a short span of time. Unless you keep on revising from time to time what you have learned, you are likely to forget it. Revision refers to the act of studying again something you have already learned. Students who are systematic in their studies keep on revising on a regular basis so as to sharpen the retention skill while the unsystematic revise only when the examination approaches.

Why do we forget?

Nothing of what we learned ever remains intact for all time. Revision is the act of studying again something we have already learned. What we learn forms an image on our mind which, in turn, is imprinted on our brain as memory traces. These memory traces are accompanied by a certain amount of mental energy. When these memory traces are left with no energy, the experience it represents is said to be forgotten. Only through revision can our memory be revitalized. We forget things mainly because of the following:

Weak impression: When we learn something half-heartedly, i.e., without paying the needed attention, the experience does not have a proper impact on the brain. A vagrant mind fails to get a clear impression, consequently finding it difficult to recall any experience with certainty our perception of it being unclear and thus not really reliable. Such weak impressions fade away from one’s memory in the course of time.

Disuse: Another reason that can cause forgetfulness is letting the trace fall into disuse. Unless what is learned is revived through practice or rehearsal to keep it fresh in the mind, most of what is learned is forgotten within a few days of learning it. Memory trace tends to decay with lapse of time. What is required is to keep using from time to time what we wish to retain.

Interference: What a student has learned recently may inhibit the recall of what had been learned earlier. This type of interference or inhibition is known as ‘retroactive interference’. Similarly, what was learned previously can interfere with what is being learned presently. This type of inhibition is called ‘proactive interference’.

Importance of memory power

Most efficient students can generally recall things instantly and accurately. They have all the facts and figures on the tips of their tongue to back up every idea they put forth, every composition they write, and every discussion they undertake. They talk more intelligently and are more interesting in every way, apart from being convincing. No wonder then, such students easily impress their teachers and examiners and would mostly top the list whenever given an opportunity.

All our knowledge is based on our memory. It is the instrument that preserves the continuity of our experience and thus shapes our whole personality. If we were to lose our memory, we would have to start from scratch just like a newborn baby. In fact, everything we do as a matter of habit, can be attributed to memory.

New ideas emerge only when existing ideas are remembered and subjected to new combinations. As experts and scholars work on prevailing ideas and theories, new insights pop up even as discoveries are made and inventions come about.

Memory helps students to perform well in exams. It helps them to come out with well-framed answers to the questions posed to them, to generate ideas through brainstorming and to organize and come out with scholarly essays and assignments.


  • Pitfalls in revision
  • Strategies for revision

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Dr K. S. Joseph, M.A. (English); M.A. (Linguistics), M.Ed., Ph.D., teaches M.Ed. students at Titus II Teachers’ College, Thiruvalla, Kerala. He has authored ten books and over sixty papers.

Dr K. S. Joseph

Dr K. S. Joseph, M.A. (English); M.A. (Linguistics), M.Ed., Ph.D., teaches M.Ed. students at Titus II Teachers’ College, Thiruvalla, Kerala. He has authored ten books and over sixty papers.