The non-linear brain and linear revision

Your brain stores and recalls Knowledge through a network of brain cells, called neurons. Approximately 100 billion neurons interlink in your brain, via a process called synapses, to construct non-linear 'neural networks' of memory. These 'neural networks' provide you with your own personal construct (understanding) of the world around you.

In class you passively receive information in a linear form, a string of words, which you hear or read. This linear information is processed in your short-term memory for a few seconds and then replaced by the next chunk of information you read or hear. That’s why you take notes in class, if you didn't, you wouldn’t be able to remember much after the class.

This Passive Approach is repeated when you revise by rewriting or rereading your notes over and over again. Whilst such 'learning by repetition' helps you memorise information in your long-term memory, it does not necessarily add to your brain's construct (understanding) of the subject.

In your A level exams the reward for just recalling knowledge constitutes only 30% to 35% of the marks available which is below that required to gain even a grade E. At A level, the majority of marks are awarded for applying your subject knowledge to analyse and evaluate often unfamiliar material given in an exam question. To do this you need to 'understand' rather than just recall knowledge.

Cognitive Map
Cognitive Map
Cognitive Map

Cognitive Map

Cognitive Map

Building your Understanding

Our brains build understanding by constructing associations between new knowledge and our prior knowledge / understanding (our construct).

ReVision helps you adopt an Active revision approach, by getting you to re-construct linear information, from your text book or notes, into non-linear cognitive maps. Constructing these cognitive maps helps clarify your understanding of topics. By requiring you to analyse and evaluate how the elements of a topic relate to each other and your prior knowledge, the approach will strengthen your understanding of the subject.

Cognitive mapping is a key element of the ReVision approach, and below you will find guidance on how to construct and start using these maps as part of your revision.


Each of the Cognitive mapping techniques presented here has been selected to help you build understanding and develop your skills of analysis and evaluation. Simply click on each map for guidance on how to construct and start using them as part of your revision.


Unit Map
Topic Web
Topic Map
Flow Chart
Cause and Effect Diagram
Compare Contrast Map


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