Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Mind Maps Can Help You Pass Tests

By William Baker

How do Mind Maps Work

Mind Maps are used to represent information and ideas in a visual form that the mind finds easier to remember. A central image or theme is located at the centre of the Mind Map and topics and subtopics are arranged around that central theme or topic.

Mind Maps are considered the most effective note taking technique. They provide the most effective way of organizing and arranging information. There are now a number of different Mind Mapping software tools available to facilitate the creation of Mind Maps.

Why use Mind Maps

Mind mapping is the most effective way of studying, generating new ideas, summarizing and organising information you want to recall. Mind maps can also facilitate creativity, problem solving, decision making and the generation of new ideas.

When reviewing information for an exam being able to review your notes quickly is important. Reviewing the most important, relevant information is even more important and Mind Maps enable you to do this as the most important key topics are located nearer the centre. Mind Maps also make use of images which the mind finds easier to remember and these can be used to summarize important information. Also the mind is better able to recall the information when associations or connections are made between related information. Mind Maps make this much easier then normal linear note taking.

Revising for exams using Mind Maps

Lets say you want to use Mind Mapping to revise for an exam. It is a good idea to first determine how much knowledge of the subject you already have. This will help when you want to build upon that knowledge later by developing associations and connections from the knowledge you have already gained.

Obtain a large sheet of paper or if you are using Mind Mapping Software create a central image or theme at the centre of the page. This will represent the main topic. Then write down the main subtopics related to that central topic by creating branches moving out from the central keyword. Add sub- branches to these subtopics containing keywords or short phrases summarizing key ideas that you can recall from memory and try to see how the different sub-topics and elements are associated.

Linear note taking is monotonous and boring. The key information does not stand out, they take longer to write and do not provide a quick way of summarizing the important information needed for an exam. Mind Maps highlight the important information by placing it nearer the centre in larger writing with images that can quickly sum up a key idea or topic. Try and sum up information with a few words or even better 1 keyword or image. Use plenty of colour and images. Organize the information like this helps you to build associations and is very usefully when you want to recall information at a glance.

Speed read books related to your subject after you have recalled as much of the topic as possible. There is a common myth that speed reading reduces comprehension and recall of information. Speed reading enables you to get a broader perspective of the information contained and helps you focus in on the important information. Getting a broad perspective of your subjects helps the mind to make associations and piece together the information particularly when you read the information in more depth. Before you speed read the book dont forget to flick through the book and look at the contents pages.

Prioritise those books that provide the most valuable information you require for passing the exam and read those books in depth.

Add more branches to your Mind Map and continue to add the key information after reading each section of the book. These keywords, images and phrases should sum up the main topics and subtopics.

Continually recalling the information you have just read will go along way by itself in helping you store the information in your long term memory. It will enable you to determine if your mind is effectively recalling the information and if not to adjust your memorization methods.

Keep adding to your Mind Map after gaining knowledge that you consider important for the exam, whether it be from books, lectures or elsewhere. Your Mind Map should become larger and more branches should be created moving even further from the central theme. A detailed Mind Map summing up each area of knowledge in a word or key phrase will contain a lot of useful information. If your using Mind Mapping Software you should add notes providing more in depth information if needed.

As you approach the exam you should be able to recall in detail the knowledge gained by glancing at your detailed Mind Map which should now contain a detailed summary of your entire subject or topic.

As already stated the Mind works best with the use of Images and by creating associations between related information. Also the most important information will stand out and you will not have to read through tons of notes to find the key information. The Mind Map will also have assisted your ability to remember by helping you to recall and review this information.

The Mind remembers best when it can see a subject from a broader perspective and visualise how the different topics and sub-topics are associated and ordered. Combine this with the images which give the mind more mental hooks to latch onto you have the most effective method for learning and recall.

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