Revision Tips

Revision Techniques: Concept Maps & Making your own questions

For IB students, the month of May could be one of the most stressful times. As May exams are underway, here are two exam revision techniques that I found useful when I wrote my exams!

Concept Maps

To make concept maps, start by rewriting your notes from class to make condensed summaries. Ask yourself, “If I were to only remember the key concepts of this topic, what do I need to know?”. From there, these condensed notes would be the basic building blocks of the concept map. 

Start with the most general topics, for example, Periodicity from Chemistry. Subsequently, link equations, definitions, and notes that are relevant to that topic by drawing lines or using any other method that makes sense to you. Referring back to the Periodicity unit, you can include concepts such as definitions applicable to the periodic table, general trends across the periodic table, and electronegativity equations. Remember to get creative with how you design this concept map! This map saved me lots of revision time so I could focus more on completing question bank questions. 

After constructing the concept map, use it during your revision with the study method of your choice. Personally, I found concept maps useful as I used them as flashcards. I tried reconstructing them from memory while trying to recall as many formulas, definitions, and diagrams as possible. For subjects that were very content-heavy (i.e., Biology HL), I looked back at the concept maps while doing questions, rather than looking back at my notes.

Formulating your own questions

Another method that I strongly recommend is to make your own questions. This is a must-try method for definition and concept-heavy courses. It is especially useful after you’ve gone through most of the question bank and you’re looking for more practice. First, start by identifying the types of questions (e.g. short or long answer) and command terms you want to practice. Then, using an online randomizer or simply mixing-and-matching, select which topic your question will be testing and its command term. If you have a specific “struggle unit”, focus on creating questions for that unit here. Now, get creative and make your own question that contains both the unit and command term chosen.

If necessary, eliminate the questions with command terms that don’t apply to the topic. As an example, in Biology HL, be sure to take out questions like, “Draw the processes that produce variety in a population”.

Once you have created your own questions, practice answering them as if they were on the exam. For those who like to study in groups, this might be a strategy to consider trying in the future. 

Generally, these two methods will work for most IB courses, feel free to try them out leading up to your exams. You got this! 

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