Generative AI for Revision

This guidance is intended to support the responsible and ethical use of Generative AI tools (e.g. Google Gemini and ChatGPT) when preparing for exams and other forms of assessment.


Using Generative AI (Gen AI) for Revision

Generative AI (Gen AI) can complement existing approaches to revision and exam preparation. However, GenAI tools cannot completely replace more traditional approaches, nor can they do the work for you.  It is therefore important to consider how such tools can enhance your individual approach to revision and make the time you have available as effective as possible. 

Examples of the ways in which GenAI tools could enhance your revision include:

  • Organising your notes (for example into bullet points, timelines, mind maps or tables)
  • Finding creative ways of revising information e.g. mnemonics, songs, rhymes and stories
  • Setting quizzes and creating flashcards
  • Creating timetables to organise and structure your revision 
  • Assist in creating revision aids that align with your preferred ways of learning  

The above examples highlight the potential benefits of using these tools, however, it is important to also be aware of the limitations of GenAI for revision. 

  • Have I fact checked everything? Gen AI will sometimes produce factually inaccurate information (also known as hallucinations). You should always follow up on the outputs from GenAI tools to check them for accuracy. 
  • Is it relevant to my course? If the AI tools are drawing on information from their training data, this might not be aligned with your course. Some of the content within the output may be less relevant to your assessments and may distract from the priority areas for you to revise
  • Are there any data protection issues to consider? You shouldn’t copy and paste or upload any university materials into the GenAI tools. This is due to issues of data protection, copyright and intellectual property. 
  • Could I become over reliant on the GenAI tools? Remember that GenAI tools can only complement and not replace traditional approaches. To make the best use of these tools, you need to understand the approaches and techniques that work best for you when revising. You can then harness the GenAI tools to further develop and enhance these existing strategies

GenAI and your notes 

GenAI tools are good at taking existing blocks of text and breaking this down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This could be particularly helpful during revision. You could take your extended notes and distil these down to a series of shorter statements, bullet points, mind maps or into a table. However, it is important to remember that this is not a substitute for developing your own note taking skills and you may find it useful to visit the 301 note taking resources which can support you in developing your overall approach. 

Ways in which you might consider using GenAI tools to develop and manage your notes include: 

  • Converting your notes into other formats that are easier to review. For example, revision flashcards, bullet points, timelines, mind maps, word clouds, and tables (remember that reviewing and condensing your notes manually could be a helpful revision technique)
  • Creating memorable revision aids, for example, mnemonics, songs, or rhymes
  • Breaking down and/or simplify challenging topics to help with both understanding and remembering information and concepts
  • Identifying connections between ideas or concepts within your notes 

You can use Google Gemini (available via MUSE) for the majority of these strategies, however, there are some that Gemini is not currently able to do (for example mind maps and word clouds).

If using AI tools other than Gemini, ensure you are following the GenAI principles. These cover a range of aspects to consider including data protection and information security. You will also need to consider that many AI tools offer limited or no access without paid subscriptions.  

Whichever AI tools you use, the key to getting useful outputs is the prompts that you use. Examples of the prompts you could use alongside your notes include:

[PROMPT] Convert the following notes into a series of bullet points. Include a maximum of 10 bullet points each bullet point being a maximum of 25 words [Add notes].

[PROMPT] Generate a mnemonic to help me to remember [topic].

In addition to adapting the prompts above, you can also make use of the example prompts within the Academic Prompt Bank. Always remember to adapt the prompt to suit your context. 

Issues to be aware of

  • Although GenAI tools make use of existing text as part of generating the output, they are creating something new and may bring in other information from the training data. You should always check the outputs for accuracy. You can use your own notes, course materials, textbooks and other sources of information to do this. Bear in mind that this process of checking for accuracy is itself a useful part of the revision process!
  • Check your own notes for accuracy as any errors would likely be carried through into the output
  • We recommend always using your own notes as the basis for any prompts and asking the GenAI tools to base the output on the content in your notes. 
  • Be aware of issues with data protection, copyright and intellectual property. Don’t put any university materials into the GenAI tools (for example copying and pasting from lecture slides or other course materials)

Using GenAI for quizzes / assessment practice

Do you already use practice questions and tests when you prepare for exams? You can use GenAI tools to help quickly generate quizzes to support your revision. You can use your own notes to help generate these questions or ask the GenAI tools to generate questions for you on a particular topic related to your course. 

There are some example prompts below to showcase just some of the ways in which you can do this:

  • Using GenAI tools to generate example questions [PROMPT] Provide a series of short answer exam questions to test my knowledge of [topic]. Provide one question at a time, wait for my answer, provide feedback, then move onto the next question. 

Molecular Biology example: 

  • Using GenAI tools to create flashcards[PROMPT] Create a series of flashcards to test my knowledge of [topic].

Cell biology example:

  • Dialogic prompting and revision You can engage GenAI tools in a ‘conversation’ by using a series of prompts followed by outputs. This could be particularly useful in certain disciplines. For example, language students could use it to practise foreign language conversations. You can use your initial prompts to set the parameters for this, helping ensure it is relevant to what you need to practice/revise. 

In addition to adapting some of the prompts above, you can also make use of example prompts from the Academic Prompt Bank. Always remember to adapt these to fit with your priorities.

Issues to be aware of

  • Be very careful to ensure that the AI generated content matches with your original source material. When prompting, ask the AI tool to highlight the text taken from your own notes within the output. This might make it easier to identify which information you need to prioritise checking for accuracy
  • If you are relying on the AI to generate the questions from its training data, the GenAI tools may not include everything relevant to your course (and may include some things that are not relevant). Be careful to check this 
  • How are you going to use the outputs? Print them, convert into pdf, Google slides? Be specific in your prompts to ensure you get a usable output 
  • It will take time to create the prompts, generate the outputs and check the accuracy. Could you set up peer learning groups where you exchange quizzes? This might enable you to access a greater number of examples without increasing your workload (noting that you would need to be confident that everyone had checked the accuracy and relevance of the outputs as described above). Bear in mind that this process of checking for accuracy is itself a useful part of the revision process!

Using AI for revision timetables 

GenAI tools can also help you to be more organised and productive in your revision. This could be particularly useful if you have multiple exams and assessments coming up and you need to appropriately divide your time between these based on a variety of factors. 

You could start with a basic prompt such as:

[PROMPT] Use my notes to create a revision timetable ahead of an exam on [date].

Whilst the above prompt would generate a timetable, you might find it more helpful to build additional requirements and limitations into your prompting. 

  • How much time do you have available for revision and how is this divided across the day/week
  • In what format would you like the output to be presented
  • Ensure you have built in appropriate breaks
  • Prioritise exams or assessments that are worth a higher proportion of the overall marks and/or where you are less familiar with the content

Below is a further example. The text in bold should be edited to suit your specific circumstances:

[PROMPT] You are a [first year undergraduate] student planning for exams. Create a revision timetable with dates and times. Start the timetable from [Monday 15th April 2024]. Exams start on [Monday 20th May] and there are exams for [Physics 101, Physics 102, Physics 103]. You have [2] hours available each weekday [avoiding 9am - 5pm] and [4] hours available for each day of the weekend. [Do not schedule any revision between 10am and 4pm on a Saturday due to work commitments]. Focus more time on [Physics 101 as this is a challenging topic worth 50% of marks for the year]. Plan the schedule to include a maximum of [30] minutes of working followed by a [10] minute breaks. Present the results in a table format for each week.

Remember to check the output received and use further prompts and/or manual editing of the output to get something that works for you. 

Issues to be aware of

  • Always remember to critically appraise the output, checking that it includes everything you intended and that it is suitable for your needs. 
  • Be aware that a GenAI tool will create a generic suggestion based on the parameters that you have provided. However, it will not recognise the fluctuations you may experience in mood and motivation. Use an AI generated timetable with caution and don't worry if you need to flex it to fit in with the reality of your life and revision.
  • Most GenAI tools will allow you to download the output into a spreadsheet or other format for ease of editing. 

Limitations of using GenAI for revision

As described above, Generative AI (Gen AI) tools can complement your existing approach to revision. However, it is important to remember the limitations of GenAI tools, both in general and for this specific purpose. Just because these tools are available, it doesn’t mean that you either have to or should use them in every situation. 

  • Always check the AI outputs for accuracy. This can be aided by using your own notes as the source material. 
  • Remember that for more specialised topics, there may be little information in the AI tools training data. This could increase the risk of inaccurate or limited information being returned within the output
  • Use GenAI tools to complement, not replace existing approaches to your revision. Take care not to become over reliant on AI tools, they won’t always be available to you. 
  • Don’t put any university materials into GenAI tools due to the important concerns around data protection, copyright and Intellectual property

Remember, using AI doesn’t always make things quicker or easier. Take a considered approach to how you use AI as a tool to support learning whilst recognising when it might hinder the acquisition of key skills and knowledge.

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