How To Improve Your Memory For Studying?
Sometimes it feels impossible to remember everything thrown at you during college. Memorizing for one class is already difficult, but when you have several it can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Lucky for you, we have gathered our best hacks to learn and memorize things faster.
1. Before You Start, Know Your Learning Style
Before we start, you need to establish something: are you an auditory, visual, or experiential learner? You can run this quick test to find out your learning style!
If you’re an auditory learner, then the most effective way for you to grasp information is by hearing it. To memorize more quickly, read everything out loud. You can also try looking for podcasts or videos and you can record your teacher or yourself and listen to it again and again. This is especially useful if you’re trying to memorize information from a lecture. Use a tape recorder to track all of the acquired facts being spoken and listen to it.
As you can imagine, visual learners favor seeing something in order to learn it. Therefore, you can use flashcards, write down keywords and ideas, color code things, draw pictures and try to visualise things that you learn.
Experiential learning types are more akin to learning from events and experiences (or, doing something with the material). You can try to walk around while reading or studying. Use your fingers to trace things, act out stories.
2. Care for Good Working Conditions
Choose the best environment
To optimize your memorization session, pay close attention to which environment you choose. For most people, this means choosing an area with few distractions, though some people do thrive off of learning in public areas. Figure out what is most conducive to your learning so that you can get started.
Keep Calm and Study On
Stress decreases your ability to encode and retrieve memories. If you’re reading this article, then that’s probably the last thing you want to do! This stress impact can be reduced with meditation, focused breathing, or even yoga. Anything you do to relax and reduce stress can and likely will help your memory.
3. Organise Your Thoughts
Write everything down and create “technical cards”
Before you start trying to recall everything from memory, write and organise the information. This will help you become more familiar with what you’re trying to memorize.
Start by writting everything down in one set of notes, then separate them into sections. This is ideal for visual learners, especially if you use color coding to differentiate between subjects.
This will help you break everything down and start compartmentalizing the information being recorded in your brain.
By doing so, you will make sure that you have understood everything you are trying to learn. And things that you understand are memorized 9 times faster.
Create a mental memory tree
If you’re trying to memorize a large number of facts, find a way to relate them in your mind visually with a memory tree. Construct big branches first, then leaves. Branches and leaves should carry labels that are personally meaningful to you in some way, and the organization of the facts (“leaves”) should be logical.
Make up stories
If you need to memorize a lot of information in some particular order, try to put the pieces into a story. It’s important that the pieces are connected to each other with some kind of plot.
Associate what you’re trying to learn with what you already know.
It seems the more mental connections we have to a piece of information, the more successful we’ll be in remembering it. This is why using mnemonics actually improves recall.
When reading for retention, summarize each paragraph in the margin.
This requires you to think about what you’re reading, recycle it, and teach it to yourself again. Even take the concepts you’re learning and reason forward with them; apply them to imagined novel situations, which creates more neural connections to reinforce the memory.
We often remember embarrassing or negative emotions more so than positive ones. So we remember those things we first got wrong in a study group more than the things we could teach others. If you make a mistake in a math technique, the frustration may cause you to remember that you must make the other choice next time. This won’t work for things like city names, but it will work if you know it’s an A or B situation.
4. Repeat and recall
Mechanically speaking, our ability to recall information comes down to the strength between neurons in our mind, which are connected by synapses. The more you exercise the synapse (repetition), the stronger it is, resulting in the ability to memorize.
For each line of text, repeat it a few times and try to recall it without looking. As you memorize each set of text, be cumulative by adding the new information to what you’ve just learned. This will keep everything within your short-term memory from fading.
Keep doing this until you have memorized that section and you are able to recall the entire thing. Do not move on to another section until you have memorized that one completely.
You can also try to write everything down by memory.
Explain what it is about to someone (or yourself)
The most effective method for me when I was in school was to teach the information to someone else. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can lecture the knowledge to someone sitting right in front of you (or the mirror, if you can’t convince anyone to sit through it) and explain everything extemporaneously.
If you are not able to explain it, it means you haven’t memorized or understood everything.
5. Optimize your Learning Sessions
Don’t forget to take a break
Finally, let your mind breathe. Go for a short time without thinking about what you just learned and come back to it later on.
Go out and exercise, a good workout won’t just help your memory, but it may reduce stress and help you sleep. Triple whammy! This doesn’t mean you need to spend an hour on the treadmill every day. Simply electing to take the stairs instead of the elevator or walking the three blocks to your favorite coffee shop instead of taking the bus can make a difference.
Get adequate sleep to consolidate and retain memories
Not just at night after you’ve studied but the day before you study as well. Far better to do this than to stay up cramming all night for an exam.
Written by Alaia – 10/09/19