Mental Maps: Learn once for all the secrets of this Study Technique!
As much as you read the handouts and do the exercises, some details will only be recorded in your brain with the help of a careful review, and even a well-done summary is sometimes not enough.
In these cases, you have to take your studies to another level: after going through reading, reviewing and even preparing the abstract – which, depending on the subject matter, can have almost as many pages as a small booklet! – you will have to adopt a memorization technique to further condense what you have learned.
Here in the Contest Manual we already talked about, for example, Flashcards , but as the more techniques you know, the more chances you have of finding the one that works best for your brain, today we’ll introduce you to one more: mind mapping!
Have you ever heard of mind maps as a method of study? So read on and find out all about this technique!
Do you know what mental maps are?
Have you ever done a scheme with keywords, small phrases or images that started from a central point and continued in several branches by the paper?
Then it may be that you have already created a mind map at some point in your life without even realizing what it was!
What mental maps basically do is transform a lot of information (for example, those 30 summary pages you wrote for a story) into a scheme that uses colors, keywords, and images to help you memorize the content More easily and without losing the relations between one topic and another.
For example, let’s say you are studying Biology, especially the workings of the human body.
Thus, studying them in a linear fashion – more or less like in the book itself or in a text summary – can make it difficult for you to understand these relationships or memorize them for proof.
In this case, a mind map can help you break away from the linear structure of the abstract, allowing you to understand the interactions between the different systems on paper, without stopping to study them separately!
Who invented this technique?
Although it has existed for a long time, this method was only systematized even in the 1970s by the English writer Tony Buzan.
According to him, mind maps are “a powerful graphical technique, which provides a universal key to unleashing the potential of the brain,” since it stimulates all abilities of the cortex by mixing words, images, numbers, logic, rhythm, colors, and spatial notions .
It may be that this description is a bit exaggerated, after all, it comes from someone who practically lives on the diffusion of this technique, but even if it does not “release the full potential of your brain,” there is no doubt that mind maps are very effective when The subject is study!
Do Mind Maps Really Work?
Learning is something that goes far beyond decorating a part of the textbook or understanding information without ever applying it to any context.
It is a complex process that involves various abilities and different parts of our brain.
The coolest of mind maps is that they can precisely stimulate different capacities of our cerebral cortex and thereby stimulate learning and enhance memorization.
It works like this: when you do a written summary or just read a content, it stays there in your short-term memory for a little while and can pass in parts to your long-term memory.
On the other hand, when you make a mental map of a content, it fixes what you have already understood in the summary with even more force in your memory, since it repeats part of the matter on the map, but also guarantees a much better understanding by associating the content Of ways that would not be possible in the abstract and use your creativity.
Also, keep in mind that the technique is still fun and relaxing: one more reason to check below how to use it!
5 steps to create and use your own maps
If you got here, then you are already understanding what mental maps are and how they can make a difference in your studies, but before you take your colored pens and drop the creativity on paper, it’s good to keep an eye on step a Step to use this technique in the most efficient way possible!
1. Start with the content well “chewed”
Yes, there are people who already start to make mental maps along with the first reading of the content, but between us, if you want to guarantee your classification in the contest or that average champion in the ENEM, it is best not to skip any stage of your studies, right?
Our suggestion, therefore, is that you just start thinking about your mind map after reading the content carefully – marking the important points and keywords – and, if possible, summarizing it in a smaller text in the form of Topics, for example.
2. Separate content into themes
You can not put all of ENEM’s material together on a single mind map, and even the entire contents of a single discipline may be too much for just one sheet of paper (which is the ideal size of your map), so before you start , You will have to make a cut of the matter.
You can also make larger maps that are then divided into separate maps for each subject: for example, in History, you can make a more “macroscopic” map with each epoch in a general way, and then make other “microscopic” For different subjects (like Middle Ages, Feudalism or Renaissance).
3. Create a hierarchy
Suppose you choose to make a mental map about the French Revolution.
Before you begin, you’ll need to reread your abstract (by consulting your sources whenever necessary) to try to systematize content in a hierarchical way.
In this case, you can divide the first branches as follows:
- Context (in which you will list what was happening politically, economically and historically just before the Revolution);
- Causes (what factors drove the outbreak of the Revolution);
- Participants (here, list the main characters of the Revolution and, at a third level of branching, their characteristics);
- Main events (in chronological order, speak of the fall of the Bastille, Constituent Assembly, proclamation of the first republic, etc. If necessary, expand each one into new branches);
- Consequences (cite how the Revolution influenced the history of France and other nations in the following decades).
4. Put the idea into action
So far, what you’ve done was more or less a planning of your mind map, but now it’s time to get your hands on the dough or the ideas on paper!
For this, we have the following tips:
- Begin your map always from the center of the paper, so you have room to expand all branches to all ends.
- Use a color for each sub-theme (like the ones we saw in the previous topic), this helps in memorizing and stimulates your creativity!
- Whenever you have, add images and symbols to help you remember the content quickly.
- Write legibly and decrease the size of the letter as your topics are creating new hierarchical levels (or ramifications).
- Use keywords and abbreviations whenever possible to get more content in less space.To get inspired, how about taking a look at the mental map gallery on Tony Buzan’s website?
5. Review your maps regularly
The part of making the mind map is usually a lot of fun, but it’s best not to stop once it’s done.
Make a folder with the maps of each discipline and review them whenever you have a little time.
If you want, show them to someone else and explain the meaning of each branch to remember and fix the matter even more.
Oh, and if you’ve forgotten what a keyword or point represents on your mind map, be sure to get back to your sources!
Towards the end of its preparation, the map can also serve as a diagnosis of what has not been so well studied.
Bonus: Use software to create your maps
If you do not have the time (or desire) to spend the afternoon enjoying the elaboration of your mind maps, you can also streamline that task using software , you know that?
Tony Buzan’s site offers iMindMap , a free program for mental mapping, but there are also some others available on the web, such as iThoughts (for Mac and iOS) and Mindjet (for Android).
It does not matter if you are going to make your mind maps on your tablet , smartphone , PC or an old, good sheet of paper: the important thing is to follow our tips to make the most of the benefits of this technique and overwhelm your studies!
However, it is worth mentioning that the performances obtained with an old and good sheet of paper will always be slightly superior to other types of scale construction, since this type of technique involves more “parts of our brain” and facilitates the memorization of contents.