Brain Based Science: The Art of the Review

Review. Don't Forget

As we remember, we etch lines and pattern in the soft surface; then time- the great eraser- slowly smooths the lines away, causing us to forget. ~ Plato

Review. Don't Forget

One of the challenges we teachers encounter every school year is the pressure to cover the content or curriculum set forth for us.

You are time pressured. The hectic school schedule full of school activities and disruptions add to your stress of trying to cover the material you have set out to do.

So what do we do? We zoom through the content. You bombard the students with information. Study this, Study that, we tell them.

And then you say, “Prepare for a quiz tomorrow.”

We miss an important element in learning :Β REVIEW

When do you give your class a review?

A day before the long test?

A day before the final exams?

Ask them to review on their own?

Why are we surprised or annoyed that students forget easily the next day what we have discussed the other day, or worse, a few minutes ago?

Brain Science tells us that that 90% of information is forgotten within 24 hours.

No wonder your students come in the next day and it is as if they were absent in your class yesterday.

The missing element therefore is REVIEW.

Cramming is not learning. It’s simply dumping information in the short term memory. The brain cannot process so much information at one go. It has to process it and if there is no processing, there simply is no learning.

Tip: Teach in small and short chunks. Then give time for processing before going to the next small chunk of content.Β 

According to Eric Jensen, one of the leading experts in Brain Based Science, review is a critical component to create long term memories.

He suggests the following specifications for Review.

  • Review information 10 minutes after learning
  • Review information 1 day after learning
  • Review information 1 week after later
Continue review after 1 week but at longer intervals.
This is what he terms as distributed practice. By consistently reviewing material, neural connections are strengthened and ensures the transfer of information from the short term memory to the long term memory.
The BEM Principle

According to LeAnn Nickelsen, author of Memorizing Strategies and other Brain Based Activities, psychologists have this concept of BEM that is about how people are most likely to recall information.

BEM stands for Beginning, End and Middle.

This simply means that your students will remember best the information they learned first, followed by the information they learned last.

They remember the least the information in the middle.

This principle highlights the importance of using creative teaching methods and hooking them right at the beginning.

Remember E is for End and so you should take advantage of the ending part of your class session. Make it powerful and remarkable because students remember information best at the end.

End with a bang

One way to end with a bang is through reviews.

Here are some ideas for the review:

  • Use a mind map to review the information tackled for that session
  • Use of an exit ticket, wherein students write on a piece of paper 2-3 things they have learned in that session and things that were unclear for them
  • Pop quizzes can be used as a tool for review immediately after a learning session and not as a threat to make students study at home
  • Have students draw out what they have learned, or anything else that proves they have understood the topic

Here are sentence starters suggested by NickelsenΒ that your students can use for the review exit tickets:

  1. I learned…
  2. I’m beginning to wonder…
  3. I feel…
  4. I rediscovered…
  5. The most important thing about …. is……
  6. I can relate to…. because….


What are your thoughts about review? Do you give enough review sessions in your class? What are your favorite review strategies?

Share them in the comments below πŸ™‚

Once again, please join our mailing list for exclusive content, offers, and resources! Share this content to your fellow teachers πŸ™‚

Argee Abadines
Argee Abadines is the founder and chief content engineer of this website. He is a brain based educator and his educational interests are pedagogy, higher order thinking, creativity, and educational technology. He is also the founder of Bruner Learning Hub. He currently teaches high school business studies and economics. Previously, he taught English to primary students. He reads up regularly about trends in education and online media. You can visit his personal blog at


  1. ooh i like it… i still remember yung nag ganito kasi sa ethics class naman yung college sabi ng prof ko dapat daw beefore matulog magreview kasi mag mabilis daw macapture ng brain natin yung mga binabasa natin.

  2. When I was a student I would just do a quick review and I’d just digest it the simplest way I understood it. It also help that when classmates ask me about the topic and we discuss it. It’s faster remembering that way.

  3. I think it is also best to write your notes in your own style rather than copying straight from the teacher’s notes… coz its more personalized and it matches how the student understands the lesson… this way, it is easier to remember stuff and easier to review it

  4. This is very useful. I agree with what was written about cramming. I use to do this and indeed it falls into the short term memory aspect which is very inconvenient πŸ™

  5. Now that I have a little girl who may be starting school next year, this information is very helpful. I can try to help her follow your steps to ensure maximum absorption of her lessons so that she can minimize or never at all have to cram. πŸ™‚

  6. I was a diligent student back then — then I got fed up, hahahah. Though I won’t encourage students to cram, maybe we just have different personalities and styles or capabilities…I passed with flying colors even without reviewing much, I guess I have a good memory somehow πŸ˜€ Thanks for this…continue empowering your students.

  7. i was a crammer but still i finished my studies with flying colors. nga lang.. it seems there were not enough stocked knowledged in my brain. puro short-term. hehe..

  8. I absolutely tip my hat over to you. I remember how it was to be in school without reviews before exams. It was excruciatingly painful. I’ve tried teaching for a bit after graduating and this is also one thing I make sure I never miss to do for my students.

  9. I remember during my highschool days, reviewing before a test made me more nervous. but it indeed improve my grades.

  10. Thank you very much for this timely post. I’ll share this to my nephews and nieces who will be going back to school next week. πŸ™‚

  11. This really helps too. What I do in college is read and browse through the topics before sleeping, then the next day, me and my classmates would discuss what we’ve understood among ourselves. 2 heads is better than 1, sabi nga nila. πŸ˜‰

  12. Such an interesting topic to discuss.
    I noticed that when I was still in my
    elementary days… I was sharper but
    AGE truly affect brain waves, Writing
    and blogging help me with this problem,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *