Recall, recall, recall – how to get students to learn quotes in Religious Studies (and any subject)


As the RS specs have changed, students need more than ever to remember quotes. I thought I’d help colleagues by sharing ideas based on what research suggests is the best way; recall, recall, recall.

  1. Make quote cards from index cards. They can write various things on each side. For example side A ‘give a quote that supports incarnation’ and side B ‘The word was made flesh – John 1’
  2. Make online quizzes – quizlet, google form or if you really have to kahoot (not a fan!) Google example here
  3. Quick quiz 1-5 – ask them 5 quote questions. An easy starter.
  4. Longer quiz – see this fab example that could be adapted from Dave Grimmett. It’s essential that it’s done but individuals, not teams.
  5. Pairs – give a set of pre made cards. Matching pairs. Either match quote and reference or topic and quote or all three!
  6. Songs or rhymes or (ewwww!) raps – as long as they can all ‘sing’ it. It counts as recall.
  7. Wall display memory – I have loads of quotes on my walls. The students look at them and reference them all the time. They look at the wall during tests (here is why I don’t care) They then ‘visualise’ this when in the exam hall and recall the quotes
  8. Student response expectation – when a student is discussing a topic or giving an answer in class, always follow it with “What quote might back that up?”.
  9. Memory palaces – I don’t know much about these except for Sherlock Holmes using them For an explanation see here
  10. Imagine the scene – this could be used well for the narrative parts of the religions  Think what the most important things that were said at that time and imagine how people reacted. Link that to a concept. When it’s time to remember, think of the reaction, then what they were reacting to. e.g Imagine the crowd at Muhammad’s final speech. He told them “Treat your women well”. Some might have been shocked as this hadn’t been the case. So when questioned on an important quote from Muhammad’s speech, it may be easier to remember this quote.

Sample ways of structuring questions:

  • Fill in the blanks – “In the beginning the ________of God hovered over the waters” Genesis 1
  • Link to a paragraph– give a paragraph on a topic – give a question “Which of these 4 quotes could be used to best support it?”
  • Reference question – “what does John 1 say?”
  • Topic link – give them a topic ‘e.g Incarnation’ and they must write down a quote that would support it e.g “The Word was made flesh”
  • Image link – link a concept to an image and they must recall a quote that supports this point e.g picture of Jesus being crucified = “Today you will be with me in paradise”
  • Scene link – as above, “Give a quote from Muhammad’s speech”

When to do the recall?
Any time! Setting quizzes for homework is especially effective as, if you get them to auto mark online, there is no marking for you.


In my opinion, any activity where only one student has to do it is a waste of student time e.g a quiz where one person answers or something like hangman where only person can ‘get it right’. All the class need to be engaging in all the tasks.

When teaching the content in the first instance, make a big thing of the key quote/s. Get them to either have their own quote sheet or highlight in a specific colour so all quotes stand out in their notes.

Identify one juicy quote per concept. E.g incarnation, salvation, predestination. Where possible choose a quote that covers multiple concepts.

Remember to interleave the quotes, don’t just test them on quote recently covered. Mix up with those learnt from the start of the course.

Get the students to create all of these activities. It saves you time but also forces them to all engage with the quotes again.
Leaving it to revision isn’t a good idea. Embed these techniques from lesson 1……in year 7.


3 thoughts on “Recall, recall, recall – how to get students to learn quotes in Religious Studies (and any subject)

  1. Pingback: “Why not make a pillory?” Pointless homework and how to avoid it. | I don't know the answers

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