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Mindmaps: How to use them and why.

Even though many new and innovative ways of studying are constantly being thought of and implemented around the world, we here in Ireland seem to be stuck in a little rut of studying the original and traditional way; by reading over something written line after line again and again in order to remember something.

The bad news is, this doesn't work, and it's time for students to start looking at new ways of studying. There are lots of great options to try out there now for different types of learners, one of which is using mindmaps! I'm going to talk you through how to use/make one, explain how it'll help you and why you should start now.

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a drawing of a basic concept, that stretches out into detail through branches and stems, like a plant. It allows you to visualise clearly the connections between topics/subjects/theories. You can make your mind map whatever way you like, just try to keep it clean and clear so that you don't get lost within it, and making the exercise pointless! You can use colours, highlighters, drawings, you name it, whatever you think will help you retain the information.

Why use mind maps?

Mind maps are visual, so they're ideal for those of you who are visual learners (learn from seeing things). It's a more creative way of collecting all the information you need to learn and it gives you a chance to put your own personal touch to what you're learning. You can take control in how you learn the information! For example, if you're studying Slyvia Plath, you can include your own drawings of images seen in her poems, to help you remember better than just looking at words on a page. 

How is it better than other methods?

There are a few reasons why mind maps are better:

  1. Studies have shown that drawing/creating art along with words helps you remember information 6 times better than if you just learnt from words alone.
  2. Because you're linking different pieces of information in your mind map, you're using association, something that your brain can do easily, much easier than just reading words over and over. So you're making life a lot easier on your brain.
  3. By linking and breaking down each idea into smaller ideas, you're simplifying the topic and making it easier for yourself to understand.
  4. Your brain also finds it easier to remember/learn information when there's a mixture of colours, drawings and words.
  5. Studies also show that your long-term memory can improve up to 10% by using mind maps.

How do I make one?

You can create a mind map digitally or physically on paper. If you're going digital, there are plenty of apps out there that you can search for on the apple/play store as well as software you can download for your PC (just make sure it's virus free!). If you're using paper, get as many colours as you can together. I've made an example of making a mind map to study Themes in Romeo and Juliet.
  • Start off by drawing a fairly large circle (or picture of the theme/topic) in the middle of the page (turned horizontally).
  • Start thinking of the secondary ideas connected to this primary idea, start branching out from the primary concept with these secondary ideas: 

  • Then, jot down or draw any other important notes/words/ideas associated with the secondary themes. 
  • Try to make your branches/connectors squiggly, zig-zagged or curved. This will keep your brain interested and alert, rather than boring, straight lines.
  • Don't write big long sentences for each idea. Keep it short and only include key points. Mind-mapping is all about not boring your brain!

Obviously this is just an example, so this is your chance to be creative and make whatever design of a mind-map you want, just follow the guidelines above :)

How do I use it once it's done?

Easy, just look at it when you're revising that topic again. The colours, drawings and branches you've used will pop and jump out at you when you look at it again and all that vital information will hopefully have been retained in your brain, causing you to be able to recall the information easily. :)

If you have any questions about study don't hesitate to send us a message, we're here to help!

Good luck with the study and exams,

Eimear and the Studyclix Team                            

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