What is your study programme?
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What is your study programme?

Retaining information

Last modified on 30-01-2023 13:36
By adopting the right approach you can ensure that you retain the material you are studying effectively...even after the exam.
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What is your study programme?

Keeping on top of and reviewing the material

With a final push and a lot of hard work, some students may be able to assimilate the study material at the last minute, but for most students, by that time, the volume of material will be overwhelming. And, even if they do manage to assimilate it quickly, often, a few days after the exam they’ve forgotten everything they read. What a waste! 

If you do no more than simply read a text, you will have forgotten 80 per cent of what you read within 24 hours. If you want to retain the information, it’s crucial to keep on top of the material and to review it frequently. Clearly, if this is to be possible, you must start in good time.

Basic review schedule

The basic review schedule is based on the following sequence: hour - day - week - month/exam and doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time each day.


Study for about 30 to 45 minutes, then take a short break. Before you carry on studying, spend a few minutes reviewing what you did in the previous block of study. You can then produce a summary or create a mind map, for example (see the page on Assimilating information). Ask yourself questions: what is the essence of this chapter? Why is that the case?


The next day, you should review your notes, underlinings and summaries. If everything is clear, you can continue. You should spend about 5 minutes reviewing each of the blocks that you studied the previous day. Even if you are not studying on that day, you should still set aside these few minutes to complete this review process.


Spend 15 minutes a day reviewing what you did on the same day the previous week.


This is often very close to the exam. But if you do have time for revision, go through what you learned the previous month once again and work out how it all fits together.


Go through everything again thoroughly to make sure you have taken it all in. You can do this by going through your notes again, but this is passive revision. You can also revise actively (this is recommended!).

Think about what you know. What are the key concepts, ideas, connections and questions? Write this down first, then see if it’s in line with the material and if you’ve missed anything. That way, you will be immersed in the material, you will have time to store it in your long-term memory and you can develop a helicopter view. 

Training courses and workshops

The UvA provides additional support for various topics through information meetings, workshops, training courses and groups. You can learn more about these by clicking on training courses and workshops.