Mind Mapping

Mindmap exampleWhether using mind maps to help kick-start your creative process, or as a way to plan or revise out an area of your academic work, mind mapping can be a great way of engaging all of your senses in your university work. If you are someone who particularly enjoys learning or revising using pictures, symbols or colour instead of writing out lines of text, mind mapping might be ideal for you. By putting all of the information about a topic or sub-topic into one mind map, you have the benefit of seeing the bigger picture, whilst also being able to focus in on the details and how they might fit together.

Mind maps can be used for almost anything. You could mind map the content of a single lecture, a whole module, or a particular theory in your field; you can even use them to help you revise for exams by mind mapping your course notes or a past exam paper. And the good news is you don’t have to be Picasso to make a great mind map. All you need is a blank sheet of paper and some coloured pens to get started. 

Study Skills Hacks: Tips for Making an Effective Mind Map

Watch this short video for some ideas on how to start using mind maps in your academic work:

For more information on the theory of mind maps and ideas on how to apply mind maping to you academic work, read more below: 


Why do mindmaps work?

The more areas of your brain are activated during learning, the easier it is to recall that information later. By being creative, using different colours, non-linear layouts, and drawings (artistic ability is not important - stick men are fine!), you are activating a range of processing networks in your brain and making multiple connections between ideas, which will help you reach that information more quickly when you try and remember it in an exam or when writing an essay.

The Mindmapping Process:

Sun DiagramStep 1: The Sun Diagram
To help you get creative, before you create your mindmap, it’s best to start off with a sun diagram. Here there is no censorship and no organisation - every relevant idea relating to your central topic is given its own spoke on the sun diagram, and no idea is too crazy as long as it relates to your topic. At this stage, don’t try to link ideas together or create substructures of branches - each idea stands alone.

Step 2: The Mindmap
Now all the creativity in your sun diagram can be brought into a more realistic and organised structure.

Start by building the main branches of your concept based upon how the items in your sun diagram can be grouped together. Write along the lines, with thicker lines for the main areas and thinner lines for the subtopics that relate to these, keep adding detail to each branch in smaller and smaller offshoots from your main branch. You can make branches a strange shape and add pictures to illustrate your point - sometimes really terrible art work can make your mindmap even more memorable and unique!

Once you have finished a mindmap, or if you run out of room on the page, you can either stick on more pages around the ages, or start a new mindmap based upon one of your branches so that you can go into more detail - the back of old rolls of wallpaper are great for creating huge mindmaps! You can put your on a wall or in a prominent place so that you keep revising the information it contains, you could even test yourself by trying to recreate that exact mindmap from memory as revision.

Top Tips
  • Use A3 landscape paper
  • Use at least 4 different colours
  • Start in the centre of the page
  • Be BOLD and try to add pictures to each concept, especially the central topic.
  • Like any skills, getting used to mindmapping will take time so don’t worry if your first few are not perfect and take a while to complete.
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