• Opublikowane 16 Styczeń, 2017

How to improve your learning skills?

In other words - ways of using rules for observing and memorizing in creating mind maps.

Do you also can't stop dreaming about fast and effective method for memorizing all of what is required to pass an exam. You could save a lot of time and put it aside for way more pleasant activities. Or at least if a process of learning alone was more pleasant and less tiring... An examination session approaches inevitably and does not respond to any arguments.

In spite of all this, learning can be easier and, above all, effective. Take part in a mind mapping course and see if it really works! Have you ever heard of laterality? Every human has got two hemispheres in the brain – left and right. Each hemisphere operates in a completely different way and is associated with different activities. When you prepare standard notes – black and white, including only linear text, few numerals, you use only your left hemisphere.  During this time the right hemisphere is, well, simply bored and distracts you. It is even worse when you learn nearby working computer, TV or incredibly interesting thriller book. Then your right hemisphere, like a bored child, for sure will spot such stimuli and the process of learning will be over. One thing is to tidy up your workplace – unless you will not end up exchanging learning for cleaning! Anyway, you can take advantage of this potential disadvantage of the right hemisphere. It is very difficult to overcome needs of your brain, since it is bored with learning and looks for sensations. This is why it is better to  meet these needs so that your brain will be able to focus on your responsibilities. The best method to do this is to create the mind map.

In order to move on to preparing the effective notes, you should know how the brain functions are split among the hemispheres:

LEFT hemisphere RIGHT hemisphere
Analytic thought Holistic thought
Logic, Maths Intuition
Linguistics Creativity
Science Art & Music awareness
Details Images, colours


So, what are the disadvantages of your usual notes?

  1. Thoroughness. Look at your last exam notes and try to notice how many redundant words you have used. It is the essence of the exam material that is the most important in your notes. It is a bit like preparing a crib – there is no room for long descriptions, it must contain only what is relevant. This is why you should use so-called KEY WORDS - that is short, easy to memorize words, which at the same time convey the most important info.
  2. Memory. The notes you usually take are plain, without any pictures, diagrams or tables. When you read such notes your brain simply gets bored. Often enough you have caught yourself thinking about totally different things while you were supposed to be studying. Even if you are able to focus on the text you are reading what you have memorized might quickly slip away because of the quality of your notes.
  3. Time. This point is related to the first one – in the standard notes there are too many redundant, useless words which take long to write down. While reading such notes you may often lose a sense of the whole statement, so you start searching for the most important part of it and you lose time because you cannot find it. It is estimated that you lose up to 90% of time for such a needles activity during the process of learning.
  4. Lack of  brain stimulation. While working on the standard notes it is very difficult to call up associations and to stimulate imagination. At least once in your life you have memorized something only because this thing made you think of something already familiar to you, e.g. a literary character – because s/he reminded you of your friend. It is even better example since descriptions in books are usually vivid, picturesque and stimulating your brain. This is why you should try to make your notes as interesting as possible.

How to memorize things effectively?

Firstly – synesthesia. It is a connection of many different senses, e.g. in order to memorize things in a better way. The more senses you use, the quicker and better you memorize a given thing. Moreover, thanks to this method the memorized thing will be easier to recall. If you noted an important info in green , you will definitely remember this colour, and during the exam you will get to the bottom of a correct answer -  “aha! I have noted it in green.. Yes, now I remember!”. While creating the mind map try to make the key words recall one of the senses (eyesight, hearing, smell, touch, kinesthesia).

Secondly – movement. It is e.g. red colour that often rivets our attention. Numerous studies support the theory that it is genetically conditioned – human pays attention to a potential danger. However, according to the same studies, it is movement that draws human's attention the most. You memorize movies quicker than motionless images. While creating the mind map try to use images that you associate with movement. Creating a multimedia presentation might be a good solution. Generally it has more in common with movement than the standard notes.

Thirdly – associations. Everything that is new should be associated with something that is already known in order to be memorized well. When you try to recall something you unconsciously create a train of thought (associations) – it should be done the same way while creating the mind map. The key word should start the train and lead you to the important info (so desperately needed during the exam).

Fourthly – humor. Funny situations or comments are memorized very quickly. It happens that we can laugh our heads off at some of them for the whole life. Use funny pictures, amusing associations in your mind maps. You will memorize the material in easier and quicker way. And, at the same time, how pleasurable it will be!

Fifthly – imagination. Your imagination is absolute, this is why you should use it while studying. Next time, when you are studying, try to arrange the content of the material in e.g. a story. You can also think about other creative way which will help you memorize things.

Sixthly – numbering. You should number, e.g. key words, so you will let the left hemisphere work too. Thanks to this method it will be easier for you to recall an important info. Numbering according to the clock face will make your notes clear and legible, so it is one of the best methods of numbering.

Seventhly – symbolism. Instead of usual, dull words, try to use symbols as the key words. Thanks to this method more difficult and abstract terms will be easier to memorize.

Eighthly – colours. Usually, these are colours that draw your attention and seem to be more interesting. So why cannot your notes be colorful? While creating your mind map try to use as many colours as possible, even if it is going to look like a picture made by a toddler. For example, you can try ascribing a given colour to a given term. During the exam it might turn out that examinators ask about everything you have written in red.

Ninthly – exaggeration. Whatever stands out from the crowd is remembered better. When at the beginning of the academic year you will spot a student dressed just in pink, you will definitely remember him/her more than other students (dressed in sober colours). This is why you should make the key words more visible – set them in bold, underline them and add to them some images.

Summarizing, in order to learn more effectively try to use what you have just read. It will help you to combine work of both hemispheres of the brain while preparing notes.

Creating a mind map

Try to create your first mind map following these instructions:

  1. Prepare a big sheet of paper. It should be plain (neither squared nor lined) and at least a4 paper, however, a3 would be the best. Put it horizontally in front of you.
  2. Work on the main topic of the note and write it down at the center of the paper sheet. Remember that it does not have to be a plain text. It can be a picture or a diagram. What is important is that it should be clear and  unambiguous..
  3. Add branches to the main topic. Create something similar to a tree. The more detailed the ideas are ideas the further from the topic they go. Put the key words on the leaves.
  4. Creating the complete mind map. Use capital letters and each word write on a separate line or in a circle. Use colours – each topic should have its distinct colour.

Remember that in order to become skilled in mind mapping you must create between 30 and 50 of them. This is why you cannot worry and get discouraged when something goes wrong at the beginning.

For a short moment we should focus on the key words. Some studies show that only 4-11% of words in any text contain info that is essential to get the gist of the given text. So do not waste your precious time and note down only words which call up associations in your mind. They will let you recall the whole term very quickly. Thanks to this you will save the time also right before an exam – instead of reading the standard notes yet again, you will be able to look through your mind map and fix it in your mind.


Find a random text, not longer than half of the a4 paper (for a start), and try to note down every key word that you find in it. Their number depends on 6 factors:

  1. Goal
  2. Knowledge of info in the text
  3. Level of your interest in the topic
  4. Level of specificity that you need
  5. Skill of searching for the key words
  6. Trust in your memory

Do this exercise once a day for several weeks, and you will master snatching the key words.

Use of mind maps

How and when can we use mind maps? We do not have to use them only for school or university purposes. Mind maps can also be helpful in:

  1. Working
  2. Planning, e.g. a day or a task
  3. Creating notes out of info you have collected during the day
  4. Planning a public speech
  5. Solving problems
  6. Designing websites

It can be said that you have just taken part in a mind mapping course. Even if you are not convinced that mind maps work, you should at least try to create one. You will not lose a thing but you can gain a lot – time, better marks and, of course, better work performance!

Written by: Anonim

Translated by: Karolina Lejkowska




  1. Marcin Kijak, Kurs tworzenia map myśli. Złote Myśli 2009, wydanie internetowe.
  2. David J. Schwartz, Pozytywne myślenie drogą do sukcesu. Świat Książki, Warszawa 2000


Pomoc psychologiczna

Studenci i Doktoranci Uniwersytetu Śląskiego mogą korzystać z bezpłatnego wsparcia psychologicznego i poradnictwa w Centrum Obsługi Studenta.

Skontaktuj się ze specjalistami w następujących obszarach:

W celu ustalenia terminu indywidualnej konsultacji psychologicznej prosimy o kontakt drogą elektroniczną lub telefonicznie.