What is mind mapping?
Mind mapping is the use of a diagram to visually organise information. It is an extremely effective way to capture ideas and bring them to life visually. The applications of mind mapping go beyond mere note-taking: it has been used, for example, even in corporate situations for strategic planning. But for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the note-taking capabilities of mind maps for now, in order to harness them for use in examinations.
Why mind maps?
Mind maps aid in the understanding and absorption of information. They help kids visually organise information and classify ideas into specific categories. All of this leads to better ability to understand and apply ideas, which translate to only one thing: better performance in exams!
Now, you may be wondering: why are mind maps superior to mere text notes? Why not just do it the old-fashioned way? Well, we have a few reasons:
Mind mapping allows for the usage of imagery and visualisation: With the use of both words and pictures, mind maps improve one's ability to retain for information by up to more than 6 times!
- Mind maps are non-linear: they allow for multiple ideas to be strung together. This is similar to how our brains work as well; we never think in a “straight line”. Instead, our ideas are constantly shifting about, with multiple ideas popping up at once
- A mind map allows you to obtain a brief overview of the topic at hand, and still retain the ability to hold large amounts of information. This unique feature allows it to be used for a quick glance in order to refresh key concepts, as well as more focused studying when the time calls for it.
When I was a student, a classmate of mine always used mind maps. At that point in time, I had no idea about their effectiveness. Then the test results came. He topped the class! From that point on, I became a staunch believer in mind maps.
Alright, I'm convinced! But how do I make a good mind map?
Sure! This article will walk you through 5 easy and effective ways to do mind mapping. With our help, you'll be mind mapping like a pro in no time at all!
Decide on a main topic
This will be the placed at the centre of the page. Imagine it as the sun, where all the arrows coming out from it are the sun's rays! Be sure to pick a topic that isn't too specific, as it has to be broad enough for us to break it down into multiple parts! Starting in the centre is important, as it gives us freedom to branch out into different ideas. Also, be sure to orient your mind map horizontally; that way, we have more space to branch out into!
Make good use of arrows
Arrows (→) help to show the association between two concepts. Always be sure to make use of them; they are your friend! Also, don't be afraid to use multiple arrows to branch out from different areas. The whole point of a mind map is to be non-linear, so draw as many arrows as you like! Arrows also help to show you the logical flow in a visual format; when we think, our brains don't tell us how the thought occurred. We have to draw it out to see the thought process that went into getting the final result!
Make good use of keywords
Try to use one keyword per line. To have keywords makes it easier to understand what the branch is about! This doesn't mean that we can't add more than one word though; it is possible (and encouraged) to write copious amounts of text in our mind map – just be sure to write a keyword at the start so that you know what that block of text is about! In the same way, we can make use of UPPERCASE, bolded and underlined text to emphasise keywords, making them stand out from the rest of the test.
Use colour coding
Doing so will add extra vibrancy and energy to your mind map! Not only that, colours also serve a useful purpose in distinguishing between different topics: for example, if we were doing a mind map on the body's systems, we could use yellow for the nervous system, black for the skeletal system, etc. In this way, the mind map becomes much easier to read at a glance: all we need to do is note the colour and we will know, instantly, which topic we're reading about.
Finally, personalise your mind map! After all, this is your own creation. Draw! Doodle! You can even paste sticky notes onto your mind map. Let your creativity run free! (But don't let it get too messy!) Use abbreviations and symbols that you understand! For instance, many people like to use ‘e' with a line on top of it as a short form for ‘the'. When I was a student, I would draw a circle and write ‘ce' to denote the circumference of a circle. The possibilities are endless! By using these techniques, you can pack more information into your mind map using lesser words; and more importantly, lesser time!
Congratulations! You are now a mind map master!
In closing, mind maps make use of imagery to help us retain up to more than six times the information we would normally absorb from just text alone, allow us to have a deeper understanding of the logical links between ideas, and give us a chance to be creative! It is no wonder that mind mapping is a powerful tool for studying. We hope that this article will aid you in helping your child learn the mind mapping skills that he/she needs to excel in the exams! Let's not kid ourselves: examinations in Singapore are difficult. Why bother with plain-Jane text notes? Let mind maps help your child ace his/her exams!
About the Author
Mr. Joel has been teaching chemistry tuition in Singapore for more than 10 years.