Attention Span

Sustaining a high level of 'attention' (the discipline of concentrating on a task) is vital during a revision session. Unfortunately your ability to sustain a high level of attention is limited. Studies vary in their estimation of the average 'attention span', but the curve shown here profiles the general decline in your ability to sustain attention, and hence absorb information, over a revision session.

Attention is at its highest just after you start a revision session and then declines, with a slight revival near the end as you make one last effort to focus on the task.

Cognitive Map

The ReVision approach applies techniques used in physical training to increase stamina, namely Interval Training and Cross Training, to increase your ability to sustain attention over the entire period of a revision session.

Building your 'Attention Stamina'

Interval Training - is a widely used technique in athletics, in which periods of intense training are interspersed with periods of rest. The same principle can be used to help you sustain a higher overall level of attention in a revision session.

Taking short breaks in a revision session forces you to re-new your attention. We recommend you spend a maximum of 20 to 45 minutes on a single revision task. This should be followed by a break of approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The graph opposite illustrates how this technique will enable you to sustain a higher overall level of attention through out the planned revision session.

Cognitive Map

Cross Training - another physical training technique in which several different forms of exercise are combined to increase overall fitness, reduce exercise boredom, and ensure a balanced work-out. In the ReVision approach you should apply the same principle by varying the revision tasks you undertake. Research has shown that changing the revision task can be as effective as an interval break in getting you to re-focus your attention, helping you sustain a higher overall level of attention in a revision session.

Again, spend a maximum of 20 to 45 minutes on a revision task, creating a cognitive map for example, before changing to a different revision task, perhaps attempting a past exam question on the topic.

Cognitive Map

This approach can be combined with Interval Training by taking short breaks between the tasks.

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