How to Mind Map: Studying and Revising with Maps
If you are a school pupil or university student, or even an adult pursuing further education, the one tool you should not go to work without is mind mapping!
There are a number of different ways students can/should use mind mapping to help with their studies, and we wanted to outline one example here. If you are a member of Biggerplate and have children studying at any level, you should make it your responsibility to get them familiar with mapping - they will thank you later!
We've chosen an example mind map from the library to demonstrate a few key points. This map is about "Plate Tectonics" - the stuff that causes earthquakes and volcanoes! We don't know much about it, but the map author certainly does, and has shared his knowledge using this mind map!
First and foremost, when you look at a big topic like Plate Tectonics, it would be easy to feel slightly daunted by where to start, as there is a lot to study and learn. The first job is to break it down into more manageable chunks, by identifying what the main sub-topics are within the subject. In this case, James has broken down the subject into 6 main topic headings, and created a main branch for each one. Note that he has also given the branches different colours - this can be a good way of helping your brain to remember certain things, as it may remember (for example) that Earthquakes was the blue section of the map, and this may trigger other ideas/memories in relation to the blue section.
Once you have your main headings, simply choose one and start to expand outwards with further information that you can add, continuing to break down each subtopic into smaller chunks and specific pieces of information. For example, in this map, the "Plate Boundaries" topic has been broken into different types of boundaries, and then provides information about what happens in each case.
The next piece of advice is to include plenty of visual reminders like images and icons that will stick in your mind and help you to remember key pieces of information. In this map, you can see (when we expand it fully) that James has included a number of diagrams to illustrate (for example) different plate boundary types, and compliment the written information he has provided.
This is a great example of a mind map that could be used to revise for exams, as you have all the information needed, and can work your way around the map reviewing everything that is included.
An exercise that can be useful is to switch the mind map software into a presentation mode, which will move through the map one topic at a time, and give you the chance to test yourself by trying to predict/remember what each topic is going to say before it is opened up.
Printing out a copy of this map, and sticking it on your wall can also be a great way to remember the main points that relate to this subject. You will almost certainly find that if you can remember a couple of key points for each main heading, you will start to remember other bits, as this is what the mind map is so good at doing for your brain!
One final tip: Keep your map simple, using just key words, phrases and diagrams. That way, when you get into the exam hall, if necessary, you can scribble out a simple version of your mind map from memory, and this will help to trigger related information in your brain that will help you in answering questions about the subject!