Revising like Hermione Granger: Magic or Madness?

Hermione Granger

Hermione Granger, one of Harry Potter’s best friends in J K Rowling’s hit series of books, is well known for being the smartest witch of her generation and a master of studying at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Let’s take a look at some of her study techniques through her years at Hogwarts to see how she lives up to the legend!

❶ Learning by Rote

‘I’ve learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough’

Hermione, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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In Harry and Ron’s first encounter with Hermione, on the Hogwarts Express on the way to beginning their first year at Hogwarts, she tells them that she has already learnt her textbooks off by heart.

While she definitely get marks for proactiveness, learning everything off by heart, without true understanding, is not effective for long-term retention. We’re going to fail her on this one. A much more efficient way of studying is to learn key facts or important information and to make sure you can apply your knowledge in context.

❷ Active Learning

‘I’ve got a query about your course aims … there’s nothing written up there about using defensive spells, … surely the whole point of Defence Against the Dark Arts is to practise defensive spells?’

Hermione, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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By her fifth year at Hogwarts, Hermione has learnt the value of active learning. When new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge attempts to prevent students from casting spells, asking them to learn only by reading their textbook, Hermione complains about this. She now knows that getting actively involved in learning and trying out the techniques can improve retention.

❸ Dealing with Stress

‘Well, that’s a good sign, I never feel you perform as well in exams if you’re not a bit nervous’

Hermione, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Nerves are normal during exam season, and Hermione’s words here are a comfort. However, stress isn’t something you just have to put up with!

If nerves/stress are interfering with your revision or your well-being, here are some things you can try:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Eat well.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Talk to someone: your parents/guardian, a teacher, a friend or your doctor.
  5. Exercise.
  6. Make time for break.

❹ Study Spaces

"Because that's what Hermione does,' said Ron, shrugging. 'When in doubt, go to the library."’

Hermione, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Throughout the Harry Potter books, the library is Hermione’s second home. The library is great place to study as it is a positive learning environment, with lots of other students working around you. Wherever you choose to work, it is important to have a dedicated study space so that you can avoid distractions and make conditions ideal for how you like to study. Find a place that works for you.

❺ Balance

‘Hermione's immense workload finally seemed to be getting to her. Every night, without fail, Hermione was to be seen in a corner of the common room, several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dictionaries, diagrams of Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes; she barely spoke to anybody and snapped when she was interrupted.’

Hermione, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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In her third year at Hogwarts, Hermione is given access to a Ministry of Magic time-turner, which allows her to travel back in time and take additional classes. As you can imagine, this hectic schedule leaves her exhausted!

While you won’t have access to a time-turner, you can still overload yourself if you aren’t careful! Make sure you make your revision timetable realistic, and schedule in regular breaks and time off.

You don’t need to compare yourself to others. Remember that it’s OK to aim for your best – whatever that means in terms of grades!

The results are in:

So, how does Hermione’s approach to studying rate?

Well… she got a score of 2/5, so I’m afraid we have to give Miss Granger a P grade for her study skills! (I think this might be her worst ever grade!)

☐ Outstanding (O)
☐ Exceeds Expectations (E)
☐ Acceptable (A)
☑ Poor (P)
☐ Dreadful (D)
☐ Troll (T)

While she is clearly a bright and (incredibly) able student, we think that her approach to studying could do with some correction – shall we try ‘reparo’?!

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