Remembering everything doesn’t seem so easy as it used to, does it? Too much on your plate this week? Just because you have three quizzes, two tests, homework in every class, and the SAT and ACT tests coming up, doesn’t mean you have an excuse to get mentally lazy. You can remember everything if you work at it. Part one of “Improve Your Recall” was an introduction to techniques to improve memory capacity and to improve recall that is particularly useful for test taking. This post will provide more specific techniques to improve memory.
The first thing to remember is the easiest of the techniques – be organized. Well-organized information is much easier to find and recall.
Learn from general to specific. First get a broad overview of a subject before you start to learn the details. For example, look over your entire reading assignment before you begin and figure out the big picture. Then the details will be easier to recall. Also, do not try to learn everything in one sitting. Marathon study sessions are not effective. Three 1.5-hour sessions are much more effective than one 5.5-hour session.
Eliminate distractions. When studying, find a quiet and well-lit place that is free from distraction. Turn off the TV and stereo, close the laptop, and put the cell phone on silent. Study the hardest subject during daylight hours because it is easier to concentrate during the day. Give yourself time to warm up to your material. The most efficient learning occurs 15-20 minutes after the start of the study session. Finally, take breaks. The brain needs a quick rest every 45-60 minutes. If the brain does not get the proper rest, the ability to retain and recall will suffer.
Overlearn. The best way to become confident in your material is to learn more about a subject than required. This is a good habit to learn before going to college, where just doing the required work will only get you “C” grade. Too often, students stop studying when they think they know enough material to pass the exam. If you want to excel, learn the required material, then examine it more and add to it until it becomes second nature.
Simple memorizing tips:
Memory traps. If you want to remember to do something, link that activity to another event that you know will take place. For example, if you are walking to school and you realize that your algebra test is tomorrow, switch your watch from your left to right wrist. Every time you go to look at your watch during the day, you will remember that you are supposed to remember something.
Get adequate sleep. New memories are very vulnerable. Studies have shown that sleep helps new memories stick. It is vital to get enough sleep to allow your brain to develop and retain new information. Eight hours of sleep is the minimum for students.
Positive affirmation. Telling yourself that you will remember is an effective memorizing technique. After you learn something important (i.e a new geometry equation), take a moment to affirm your ability to remember. Tell yourself you will remember.
Remember, you never forget. Develop an attitude that says, “I will remember everything!” Sometimes it may be difficult to recall something, but the information is stored somewhere in your brain. All you have to do is find it. It is much easier to work hard when it has meaning in our lives. Know your rewards and then connect them to your studies. When you desire something, you can remember it, so be specific about what you want.