EAsy revision: Pen and paper revision ideas

Lots of the revision techniques we have looked at so far have involved a variety of different resources such as coloured pens, past papers, and flash cards. Even though these techniques are helpful there are always times when you just won’t have all these resources available. You might be travelling, or in a library and just not have all the resources you normally have. For these occasions, I have put together a list of ideas that you could use that only require a pen and some paper. Some of these have already been discussed in this EAsy revision series but having everything in one place is always helpful 🙂

What ideas could you use?

Brainstorm everything you know – Decide on a topic to focus on and write it in the middle of a piece of paper. Then brainstorm everything you know about that topic round it (try and organise the information if you can, for example into theories and studies). This is a great way to test your knowledge of a topic (you will need to check what you have written later on with your notes/ textbook) and to see what you need to revise more.

Write essay plans – If you have an exam coming up that involves writing essays which you can at least approximately guess what the titles of might be this is a good technique to use. Think of a possible essay title and try and write a plan for it (making sure to include evidence, evaluation etc.). Alternatively, if you have already written essay plans then try and write these down from memory (this is basically what you will be doing in the exam anyway so you may as well practice now…). Check them against your original ones later and see which need more revision.

Draft an essay – similar to above, if you have a bit more time why not try actually writing an essay? You could do this in timed conditions if you want to test yourself even more. Just remember to check it later to check that you got the information in it correct and your argument makes sense!

Draw a black and white comic strip – using lots of colours in a comic strip can be nice but it isn’t always necessary. Instead you could just draw a black a white comic strip to explain a particular historical event etc. The process of doing this will help you to remember the event in chronological order and to think what the most important parts to explain are. Thinking about the information like this if you haven’t before will help you to remember it.

Write a paragraph to explain something –  This could be a theory, a study, a case study, an event. Try to write a paragraph to explain it in a way that would teach someone who knew nothing about what you are writing it. Make sure you include key dates, people, key words etc.. Also try to keep your paragraph fairly succinct (imagine that they only have a minute or so to read it so just don’t go off topic!).

Write key words and definitions down – I know I talk a lot about testing yourself on key words but it is important because even if you aren’t tested on them directly in your exam, having a good understanding of them will be helpful for answering other questions. When you don’t have any resources other than a pen and paper this is a good time to check your knowledge of key definitions as you won’t be able to cheat and look them up anywhere! Think of some key words and write a definition for them and then check your answer later.

Think of exam questions – A good way to revise is to invent your own exam questions (this is easiest once you have done a few past papers and know the kinds of things you might be asked) and write a mark scheme for them. This will make you think about the kinds of things (key words, dates, and other specific information like that) that examiners want to see. You could even collaborate with a friend on this if they are doing the same exam and write questions for each other and then mark them.


I hope this has given you some ideas for some simple but effective revision techniques – leave a comment to let me know how you like to revise when you don’t have many resources available 🙂

Ellen Allsop

Hello! I'm Ellen Allsop, the creator of EAsy :)

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