Do you struggle with memorizing and retaining content? Whether you are getting ready for an exam, presentation, or speech, the following tips can help you effectively remember information.
Understand Before Memorizing
There is more value in knowing the meaning of a word than being able to regurgitate definitions out of a textbook. The flaw in simply reciting words is that if you forget a part, then you cannot continue recalling since you have only memorized the order of words, not their actual meaning. Instead, identify the main points of your content or reading and retell them in your own words.
Also, try to get the correct information the first time you learn it by paying attention and asking questions whenever you do not understand something. It is hard to remember content, but it is even harder to overwrite inaccurate memories.
Serial Position Effect
The serial position effect is the tendency to better memorize the beginnings and endings. Use this to your advantage by sorting the information so that the most important parts are at the beginning and end when studying.
Passive studying, like reading over your notes or textbook, only reinforces that you recognize the information, not that you can actually recall it if you have a blank test in front of you. Active studying through practice tests, the ask & answer technique, and flashcards are especially effective.
Ask & Answer Technique
To use this method, find what content you need to know and form a question for each section of information. You can also make questions out of vocabulary words, such as “what is mitosis?” Write down all the questions and attempt to answer them without using your notes. This method mimics the traditional format of a test, therefore preparing you for the exam environment. Additionally, if you can think of the question, it has a probability of being on your exam.
Spaced Repetition and Utilizing Breaks
To keep information in your head for a longer time, you need to put it into your long-term memory. You can do this with spaced repetition, in which you first repeat the information right after learning, then after 15 to 20 minutes, then after 6 to 8 hours, and finally after 24 hours. This technique tends to be used with flashcards, and the app Anki helps do so by notifying you to review the information with online flashcards.
Generally, it is better to study for 15 minutes a day over a span of a week than for 2 hours on one day. Studying for less time can help you feel less overwhelmed and can let the content stick in your head better. Sleeping and walking can significantly help strengthen memory.
Mnemonic devices are ways to help you remember content. To do this, you can connect the information to an actual example. The best connections are the ones that make the information entertaining or connected to your life in some way.
For instance, you can create a chronological story with your content and associate it with your experiences or a hobby. Therefore, if you can remember the beginning of the story, you can recall the rest of the story.
Similarly, acronyms can help you memorize cycles or phases. For example, you can use PEMDAS (Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or whatever works for you) for the order of operations or HOMES for the names of the five Great Lakes of the U.S.
Rhymes and songs can also help you remember the content in a fun way. For instance, a well-known rhyme is “In fourteen hundred ninety-two Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
Activate All Your Senses
Using as many of your five senses when studying will allow your brain to absorb it quicker. You could read your notes out loud while recording and play it back later, in which you would be getting the information through seeing, hearing, and even feeling it when your mouth is speaking the content. Also, write your notes instead of typing them if possible since writing involves deeper cognitive processing and would help memorize more.
Utilizing all your senses and visual memory will make sure you can retain content effectively. Some tips may work better than others because everyone has a different study method. Do not be afraid to try out various memorization methods to find what works best for you!