What is a Mind Map and How to Use One

What is a Mind Map and How to Use One

When studying for an exam it is important to experiment with and find studying techniques that can help simplify the studying process. One of these techniques is mind maps. When utilised correctly, this can be an extremely effective study technique. 

In this article, we will answer the question: What is a mind map? We will also explain how to create and use one effectively. 

What is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a graphical representation of concepts and information. Each mind map has a central core with branches that extend outward. These branches can include related topics, steps in a process, and other information pertaining to the central topic. 

Mind maps can be utilised and created to represent a broad understanding of a topic, or to visualise and comprehend the details of a specific concept. 

This study method is beneficial as it allows a student to visualise and structure information in a way that is easy to understand.

Image Source: https://www.pmt.education/teachers/biology/gcse/aqa/aqa-biology-gcse-mindmaps/ 

How Mind Maps Help With Knowledge Retention

Mind maps assist in knowledge retention as it engages different parts of your brain. This is because they mimic the way in which a brain functions. Our brains function in a radiant manner and not a linear one. Therefore, you are more likely to understand and memorise the information contained in a mind map.

In order to create a mind map, it requires you to understand the subject or concept you are studying. Without an understanding of a topic, the mind map will not flow correctly. Once you have created this flow and documented the necessary information, it will be much easier to memorise and retain the information. 

Mind maps also make use of imagery, colour, and visual-spatial arrangement. This makes it easier to remember where a piece of information is located on the mind map and allows you to visualise and recall the information. 

The Suggested Strategies for Mind Mapping Include:

When creating mind maps, there are a few “rules” that you can follow. These consist of certain elements that every effective mind map contains. However, once you’ve got the gist of how a mind map works, you can be as creative as you wish. Innovation and making your mind map unique is the key to making it memorable. 

A Central Topic

Each mind map should contain a central topic which will typically be located at the centre of the page. You can use a circle, square or any other shape that makes sense. If the topic requires a definition you can also include it in this central location. 

Main Branches

Once the central topic has been defined, you can then start to identify the key aspects or main categories of the topic. For each aspect or category, you can create a branch. Each branch can be labelled with a term or key phrase. At the end of the branch, you can include a text box explaining this aspect or category of the topic. 

If there are more subcategories pertaining to an aspect, you can create further branches that go into further detail. 

Find Connections and Relationships

Even though each category and aspect is isolated, there should be relationships and connections between each branch. Try to identify these relationships and even go as far as to draw connecting lines or arrows between them. 

In some cases, each branch is a precursor to the next branch or category. In this case, you can number each branch to represent the flow of the process. 

Be Creative

The key to a good mind map is creativity. The more unique a mind map is, the easier it will be to memorise. Try using colours, drawing pictures, and even including symbols to make it stand out. These details will make visualising the mind map and its content much easier. 

Create a Mind Map by Hand

While there are many software programs that allow you to create a digital mind map, it is advisable to create and draw one by hand. This will give you a chance to write out the information, which will contribute to memorising the information as you create the mind map. 

It will also assist in recalling information when you have created your own drawings and taken the time to create your own unique flow. This will offer you more opportunities to customise your mind map design and have it make sense to you. 

Exploring with Mind Map Design

While each mind map has similar elements, there are different designs that can serve different purposes when studying. Some of the most popular designs include the Spider Map, Bubble Map, and Flow Map. In the next section, we will be giving you the breakdown of these three mind maps and examples of each. 

Spider Map

The Spider Map is one of the most popular types of mind maps and is often one of the first mind map formats that students are taught. Here you have a central idea located at the centre of the page. 

From this central topic, you have branches that are drawn in a shape that resembles spider legs. Each branch will have extra branches sprouting from the first, which will contain further sub-categories and information. 

These mind maps are great for mapping out the broad understanding of a topic and how the sub-categories fit together to form a greater concept. 

Bubble Map

The Bubble Map consists of one central circle with a bunch of branches. At the end of each branch, you will find another circle or bubble that the information is contained in. Depending on the amount of information, you can adjust the sizes of the relevant bubbles. 

This can be a fantastic way to memorise the terminology that is connected to a concept and the definition of each term. It can also be useful if you are trying to expand your vocabulary for your next English exam

Flow Map

A Flow Map, as its name might suggest, depicts the flow of a process. Therefore, you will start with one block or circle and it will flow through to the next step in the process, until the end. This is fantastic when trying to memorise or understand certain procedures, such as those required in practical exams

It should be mentioned that some of these mind map designs can be combined to suit your specific needs. Remember, creativity and innovation in your mind map design is an important aspect of making a mind map memorable. 

Now that we have answered the question: What is a mind map?

You are free to go ahead and practise making your own mind maps, so that you may study more efficiently.