MORSE Code for Revision

Revision needs to be active if it is going to be effective. There’s no point spending ages copying notes into ‘neat’; this might seem virtuous, but that doesn’t mean it works. There are all kinds of specific methods that people use and recommend for revision and it’s likely that you’ll already be familiar with some of them. More will be covered in later posts, but this overview might be a useful way to assess whether what you do is worthwhile.

This MORSE code is a checklist. Most techniques that are worth spending time on will tick one or more of these characteristics. Some are more relevant for simple facts, while some are better for explanations. See what you think.


These are memory tricks for words, lists and sequences. The phrases or acronyms don’t have to make sense – Naughty Elephants don’t necessarily Squirt Water – but they still help us to remember things.


Linking ideas together in some way means that we don’t just remember the fact, but what it is connected to. The human brain is very good at associations, such as groups or categories. Concept maps use this so that once a few facts are recalled, the rest can be ‘filled in’.

Repetition or Rehearsal

You’ll need to cover information more than once. Ideally you should try to use the material several times, in different ways or varying situations, perhaps from different starting points. Attempting several practic questions on the same topic is one way to do this.


It’s easier to remember a few significant facts than long sentences. When you focus on key words, short definitions, the main points of an argument, you are using this to make your revision more effective in less time. You might find post-it notes or revision cards work well for you, or choosing 3/5/10 words or phrases for each page of your notes that get the main points over.


Covering the same facts in the same way is boring, and doesn’t give your brain much to do. It’s more effective to use what you know in a new way. Turn a mind map into a set of revision cards. Write a set of questions for a classmate. Create a limerick, or a C words chart. As long as the focus is on what you’ll need to know or do in the exam, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Later posts will discuss ways to apply these ideas. Until then, why not figure out a way to make the revision for your next test more effective by focusing on one of the five areas?


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