First thing first. I am overwhelmed with the kind of response my previous article The 7 Laws of clearing CA Exam’ got. Almost 10,000 view and more than 100 comments. Wow! Thank you friends for appreciating my effort. When I wrote the previous article it was around about the time when I was about to give a one of a kind seminar to CA Students based on my book. ‘The 7 Laws of Clearing CA Exams’.
Now on the occasion of the same seminar video ‘Seminar on the 7 Laws of Clearing CA Exam ’ going live on YouTube I thought of going ahead and continuing from where I had left in the previous article and share another law of The 7 Laws of Clearing CA Exam.
The law that I am about to share with you is THE LAW OF REVISION
Ever since we started our journey of formal education we have been asked to revise, revise and revise. Although everyone around us seemed determined to get us to revise what we had learnt but no one, absolutely no one took the pain of going ahead and helping us understand WHY we need to revise. Why revision is important. As a result we followed their command half heartedly and couldn’t really reap the benefits of revision.
Human beings are designed in such a way that only when they do something voluntarily they give better performance and better results follow but when we are TOLD to do something we do it involuntarily at lower levels of performance and substandard results follow.
Today, I will reveal the secret behind revision and answer all the WHYs & WHATs like:
a. What is revision?
b. Why revision is important?
c. Why do I need to revise something?
d. What happens when I don’t revise?
e. What is the most effective way to revise?
f. Why should I revise more than once?
Unless and Untill a student get answers to ALL these questions, he will not be able to understand the importance of revision in his academic carrier and reap benefits. In the absence of proper understanding of this marvellous concept of revision he would remain ignorant and continue considering revision a burden in his life.
Let’s take up each question and move ahead with ‘The Law of Revision’.
WHAT IS REVISION
Revision is the act of rereading a subject so as to memorize it. Whenever you are RE-READING something, you are revising it. This is revision.
WHY REVISION IS IMPORTANT
To understand why revision is important we need to understand the concept of Short and Long term memory.
Short term memory – It is the part of the memory that retains information for a very short time. It is very temporary storehouse where the brain keeps information for a very short period. A practical example of short term memory in action is when in a party you are introduced to an unknown person and you remember his name only for few moments. Short term memory serves you for only few seconds and minutes. Whatever we first learn and try to remember gets stored in our short term memory. But as the name suggests, it gets stored only for a short duration of time. In the absence of rehearsal or revision the information stored in the short term memory fades away quickly. A couple of revision and rehearsals helps in the information storage for a longer period and eventually go into our long term memory.
Long term memory – Long term memory stores data and information that can be retrieved even after months and years. Information in the long term memory is stored permanently. It is sometimes called as the ‘memory store’ wherein all the learning throughout childhood is being stored by the brain. All the languages, facts, personal experiences, skills, behaviors and understanding of things are stored in the long term memory. Whatever you have not learned recently and still being able to recall is primarily the information that is stored in your long term memory.
We will concentrate more on the long term memory because this is where we want to store the information in the form concepts, answers and other data for easy retrieval during the exams
Now understand that when you study a new chapter of a subject it primarily gets stored in your short term memory. When you finish reading, you try and recall the concepts you learned a little while ago and find yourself able to recall the information at ease. You become confident and assume that you have learned the concept permanently only to realize at a later point in time that that was not the case to be. When after a few days you try and recall what you learned, your ability to recall disappoints you. You cannot recall everything and become frustrated. Actually there is nothing to be disappointed at this. You never ensured that the topic gets store in your long term memory.
How to store information in long term memory? Revision is the only way by which we demonstrate to our mind that particular information that has been revised is important and needs to be stored in the long term memory for easy recollection later on. This is why revision is important.
WHY DO I NEED TO REVISE SOMETHING.
Continuing from the above example, You read the concept once or probably twice and demonstrate to your mind that it should only be stored in the short term memory. You never revised it more than twice systematically! And thus your brain did exactly what you instructed it to do. Remember that our actions determine our outcomes. A student should always try to store new concepts and answers in his long term memory so that he can recall it whenever and wherever required.
The reason why you need to revise something is because only by revision the subject will get transferred from your short term memory to your long term memory and recollection of it will be very easy later on.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T REVISE
Consider your memory to be a dense forest. When your first learn something, it’s like clearing some part of the forest to make a way. If you don’t clear it again soon, the bushes will again grow and you won’t find the path that your initially cleared and created. However if you clear the path again before the bushes grow the path becomes clearer. Repeated working over the passage ensures that the path becomes permanent and smooth. Our memory works in the similar manner, when you first learn something it creates memory impressions in your short term memory, in the absence of repetition the traces disappear but when you revise it the impressions strengthens and repeated exposure places them permanently in your long term memory
WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO REVISE
To understand the most effective way to revise we need to first uncover one of the most groundbreaking discovery which was done by Hermann Ebbinghaus of Germany.
Hermann Ebbinghaus of Germany had discovered the concept of the ‘Forgetting curve’ in 1885. It is the graphical representation of the information lost over time in the absence of revision. The Forgetting curve helps us understand the importance of revision and what happens in the absence of it. It shows how human mind forgets things he learns with the passage of time. On the other side it also helps us understand how we can ensure we retain new learning with by systematic review of the material learned. Observe the below representation of the forgetting curve.
The graph depicts how we retain new information that is fed in the mind. Let’s understand this on the basis of a new chapter you learn. The very first time when you learn the chapter, it gets stored in your short term memory and thus you remember almost 100 percent of what you learn. But things change as time passes.
As learned earlier, your short term memory stores information only for a few seconds or minutes and discard it after that. It considers that since the information is not being revisited, it probably is something not worthy of being kept for long, just like newspapers you read daily. Since there is no repetition, the information is discarded by the memory at the end of the first day, your retention of that chapter falls down drastically to around 20 percent. Think about it for a moment, when you don’t revise a new chapter within the next 24 hours of giving it the first reading you forget 80 percent of what you learn. In other words if you had devoted 10 hours to study something new and do not revise it within the next 24 hours then 8 hours study becomes useless since you forget 80 percent of what you learn within the next 24 hours
When the chapter is still not revised till the end of the 2nd day, almost all the information is lost from the memory. You retain only about less than 10 percent. What that means in just after the 2nd day, 90 percent of your time and effort is gone in the absence of revision.
And by the end of a few weeks you remember only about less than 5 percent. That’s just next to nothing.
Coming back to the question – What is the most effective way to revise? Well the most effective way is the one in which no information is lost over time and you retain everything.
HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD SOMETHING BE REVISED
One of the biggest misunderstandings about revision is that one must complete the entire subject and then revise the entire subject. I once read an interview of a CA Final topper and he revealed that he revised the entire syllabus 3 times! Fascinated by this I decided to follow the advice. I completed the book on costing in around 20 days; by the time I came back to the first chapter to revise… all was blank! I couldn’t understand! It took me almost the same amount of time to revise everything that it took in the first place! When even after completing the revision I saw that I was not confident I got worried. I found myself unable to recall concepts and answers just after a few days! I actually lost my sleep when I experienced that! The worry got multiplied over time because that was not just happening with costing, I had 7 more subject. I was so stressed those days.
I wish I had known Abhishek Gupta’s (All India Rank 1 CA Final May 2012) observation. He says, “Due to the vastness of the syllabus of CA Final, revision becomes an integral component. It generally takes 2-3 months to cover the entire syllabus for the first time and as a result, a student is unable to retain what he/she may have studied in the initial phases.