Have you ever forgotten something?

I’m guessing the answer to that question is “yes” because it happens to us all. From your friend’s birthday, historical facts, the punchline to a joke, the name of that friend-of-a-friend that you met six months ago… It can be very frustrating.

We will often put it down to being forgetful, or simply not having a very good memory and then we accept that we are going to forget things.

That doesn’t help us when it comes to an exam though. If we can’t remember the key piece of information that we need we will lose marks, and we will drop grades as a result. Is there anything that you can do to improve your memory?

Fortunately, yes!

Here Are 6 Revision Memory Tricks

1.Revision & Brain Training

You’ve heard people say that “the brain is like a muscle”? Well, that is true – you need to constantly exercise it to make sure that it is in peak condition. But if you take it a step further, if you were to build up your, for example, leg muscles would that make you excellent at football? It wouldn’t, would it?

As well as building up the muscle, you need to work on your technique and it’s exactly the same for your brain. There are plenty of mental association techniques that you can learn and practice that will make the most out of all that ‘muscle’.


Think of your mind as a huge road network – in order to find the information you’re looking for, you need signs to point you in the right direction. That’s the job of mental association, and in this article, we are going to be looking at some of the most effective memory tricks for revision.
Perhaps the most common form of mental association is the mnemonic. This is where you memorise a word or phrase, and the letters within the word, or the first letters of the words within the phrase, relates to the information you are trying to recall.

Two of the more famous examples of this are:
  1. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain – to remember the colours of the rainbow
    (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).
  2. My Very Excellent Mum Just Served Us Noodles – to remember the order of the planets
    (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).

While this is often considered a good way for young children to learn basic information, the same technique works for more complex subjects, and the phrases can be as weird or silly as you want them to be – just as long as you can remember what they are.

As one last example, I used to always struggle to spell the word ‘necessary’ – I just had a mental block. Then someone told me this mnemonic:

Never Eat Celery, Eat Sausages. Sausages Are Really Yummy.

I have been able to spell it every time since that day!

3. Mind Maps

A mind map is a physical thing that you can create, but it the whole purpose is to be able to picture it in your mind when it isn’t with you.

We mentioned above how your mind is like a big road network – well this is an easy way to get your brain to the destination in no time at all. You can link together ideas, starting at a big topic, and attach little details to guide you on your way.

Every mind map will be slightly different, but it is usually good to start with a major topic right in the middle – something big that you need to know a lot about. Then you can use different colours to create paths from that main topic, with keywords linking the way.

Just by creating this, you are forming an image in your mind that you are more likely to be able to recall during an exam than if you were just to read bug chunks of text. You will picture the colours, and follow the paths in your mind – bringing those keywords back to you to use in your answers.

4. Songs

Do you find that you can remember song lyrics so much better than other, more useful information? Even songs that you haven’t heard for years, you hear the opening few bars and all of a sudden you can sing the entire song without even thinking about it.

This is because of four main characteristics of songs that aid our memory – repetition, rhyme, pattern and connection. All of this feeds into how our brains like to work, and is why we can remember songs that we listened to when we were 7 years old, but struggle to remember what we had for lunch yesterday!

So how can we use this to help our revision? We could create some songs! You don’t need to be musically gifted at all to do this, just pick the tune of one of your favourite songs and change the lyrics to fit in whatever you are revising.

5. Memory Palace

Arguably the most famous memory association technique is the memory palace. This is where you picture a place that is familiar to you, usually your home, but any building with lots of rooms.

The idea is that you ‘store’ lots of information around your memory palace – so for example, you might have a car parked outside with the number plate “SPEED =”, then next to it a tree with “Distance” spelt out in the leaves, and “time” written along the trunk – a quick glance at that and you remember ‘Speed equals distance over time’.

Each room in the house can be the source of a new topic, with information packed everywhere. Each chair, picture, table, TV, stereo etc can all be displaying some information that will come in handy.

This is a technique that is incredibly effective, but it does take time to learn. So practice this for a little while, and your palace will become packed with more and more information.

6. Smell

Okay, now hear me out because this is a little left-field.

Do you know that sensation when a particular smell brings a memory back that you hadn’t thought about for years? It could be the smell of a friend’s house from when you were little, or a particular meal you had at a restaurant – something quite obscure like that, but it comes back incredibly vivid.

It turns out that the part of our brains that deal with smell has a direct link to the part that controls our memory, and smell can trigger a very vivid memory as a result.

We can use this in our revision. Try out a new fragrance when you are studying a particular subject, and make sure you only ever use that fragrance when you are studying that topic. Create a strong connection between the information you are learning about and the smell you are wearing.

Then, on the day of your exam, use the same fragrance and allow the smell to trigger the memories of all that study and the information that you learned.

We have included here some of the best memory techniques for revision, and there is plenty more help out there for you to get the grades that you deserve. Check out the SchoolOnline website for more ideas to make your revision as fun and productive as possible.

For more help with GCSE revision have a look at these other articles:

  1. Flashcards: The Importance and Powerful Use They Carry In GCSE Revision 2022
    Eat, Sleep, Revise, Repeat
  2. How Growth Mindset Can Help With Exam Preparation
  3. Pomodoro Technique An Easy GCSE Revision Hack