Zenith Education Studio
Using Mind Maps In Your A Level Revision Flow
Mind maps are one of the most useful visual tools in learning. It helps you to draw connections between seemingly disparate ideas, present and organise your thoughts, and even improves your memory on the topic at hand. Mind maps are especially helpful when you do your revision, as you assemble everything you’ve learnt into one holistic overview of the topic. At Zenith, we actively rely on mind maps to help our students learn better while encouraging them to adopt them in their revision toolbelt. Click here to find out more about the best tuition centre in Singapore! In this guide, Zenith will show you how to create 3 different types of mindmaps from scratch, as well as when to use each variation. We hope that this guide can kickstart your mind mapping journey!
The first mind map that we will be introducing is called the bubble map, as seen in the image below (Fig 1.).
Fig 1. Example of a Bubble Map
Bubble maps are akin to web or cluster maps, where the main or largest bubble contains the main idea or theme, with words or phrases in smaller surrounding bubbles describing it. Bubble maps are mostly used in writing, and hence can be very useful for essay brainstorming.
How to create
Firstly, identify the idea that you want to describe, and place it in the center bubble of the map. Generate a list of words or phrases that describe or define the noun, and connect them via smaller bubbles to the centre bubble. Lastly, link the different smaller bubbles to one another, if possible! You can also create a double bubble map, which is normally used for comparing and contrasting things. Seeing how different adjectives can or cannot be used to express two different ideas will deepen your understanding of the topic, as you actively sift, relate, and categorise the information that you receive.
When to Use
Bubble maps are largely used (but not limited to) for writing. Here are three examples of how bubble maps are commonly used!
Essay brainstorming. Identify the keyword(s) in the essay question, and set that as your main bubble. What adjectives or phrases spring to mind when you see that keyword? What other themes or concepts are related to the keyword? Is there a comparison element to the question? If so, create a double bubble map!
Growing your vocabulary. Write the word that you wish to replace in the centre. Branch out to other words that share similar connotations and contextual usage. It is important that you note the situations that such words are used in, since synonyms may not always be perfect substitutes, depending on the circumstances!
Revision. Place the topic at the centre of the mind map. Write down salient concepts or themes related to the topic in the smaller bubbles, and see how you can link the ideas together. This would be especially useful for topics that you personally find to be disjointed — at a glance, you can spot the similarities and differences between subtopics, and observe the amalgamation of ideas.
The second type of map we will be introducing is the fishbone diagram, which is illustrated in the picture below (Fig 2.).
Fig 2. Example of a Fishbone Diagram
Fishbone diagrams (also known as herringbone/cause-and-effect diagrams) are causal diagrams that illustrate the causes of a particular event. We can use it to organise our learning or thought process.
How to create
Firstly, identify the effect or outcome of the situation. Place that as the “fish head”, and draw a horizontal arrow running through the centre of the page, with the arrowhead pointing at the effect. Subsequently, think of possible categories of causes for the effect, and branch them out from the main arrow. Draw on smaller arrows for causes that fall below such categories. The layers of branches should reflect the causal relationship between your ideas, and seek to explain the problem.
When to use
While fishbone diagrams are largely used for product manufacturing and its associated problems, they can be highly effective for delineating in our thought process too. Here are two examples of how fishbone diagrams are commonly used!
Essay brainstorming. For cause-and-effect questions, such diagrams would be extremely helpful in categorising the origins of the problem. Continuously probe into the causes — why else did this happen? How are they linked? Could there be more reasons as to why this situation occurred?
Revision. This may be especially useful when revising for the Humanities, like History or Economics. History often has an overarching theme of cause-and-effect; such a diagram would allow us to immediately visualise the different reasons why we observe a particular outcome. The ability to categorise is an added benefit, as we can sort out causes into “root”, “trigger”, “necessary”, “economic”, “political”, “social”, etc.
Tree Diagrams are used mainly for easy identification, as well as classification, based on similarities. The categorical approach of the tree diagram allows its user to not only compile and see the similarities within a category, but differences become more salient as these groups are separated as shown in the image below (Fig 3.).
Fig 3. Example of a Tree Diagram
How to create
At the start of the tree diagram, you would need an overarching theme or subject. For example, the theme could be the rise of Asian economies from the 1970s to the 1990s. Moving on, the branches that follow from the main theme could be broad categories such as the role of the government, the role of international actors, the role of culture, etc. Finally, we get to the ‘roots’ where under each small theme, we would list down key points of the different roles.
When to use
For tree diagrams, unlike bubble maps and fishbone diagrams, they are much more effective in showing the categorisation of points due to their classification methods.
Revision. For content-heavy subjects like History which require a great deal of mastery in the content, by using tree diagrams we are able to categorise the points more coherently and frame them in a way we are able to understand clearly. Another advantage of the tree diagram is the sequential pattern that follows the main central theme, branching out into smaller themes and eventually into the roots. This systematic and logical flow of pattern allows us not only to retrieve information easily but also helps us in remembering content in chunks instead of in isolation. Comparisons between the branches also become easier as visually, these stand out separate from each other.
Deeper thinking. The classification of themes when using the tree diagram offers its user the ability to deepen their understanding much like the bubble map. But specifically, the deepened understanding happens within a specific branch.
The use of mindmaps in your revision can bring about exponential effects on the quality of your revision. All three options provided have different advantages to offer! The fishbone map offers a clear approach to a causal relationship, while the tree diagram offers a systematic and logical approach. We highly recommend that you adopt a few of them as part of your revision strategy. As part of our A and O Level tuition curriculum, Zenith’s tutors often leverage the effectiveness of mind maps to help our students both brainstorm and remember content better. For many of our students, mind mapping has become second nature to them when they learn new topics or revisit old ones.
We hope that you have found this guide to be insightful! If you are currently in need of tuition in Singapore, do check us out here to browse through the various programmes that Zenith has on offer! If you still feel unsure, you can always sign up for a free trial lesson by contacting us here. We look forward to having you join us!