If you’re like most students, you might be having trouble recalling and memorising everything that your teachers throw at you in class. If you want to improve your memory and concentration skills, then these simple yet effective tips will help you get on the right track to improving your academic performance. Use them regularly and watch your grades shoot up!
What is memory?
Memory is the brain’s ability to retain and retrieve information about the world around us. There are two types of memory – short-term and long-term memory.
Short-term memory, also known as working memory, has a limited capacity and is used to recall information presented to us within the last few seconds to a minute without active rehearsal. The short-term memory only can store between four to five items at a time. This type of memory is heavily dependent on visual and audio cues and not much understanding of what is being processed.
Long-term memory has an immense capacity and gives meaning to the information it stores. For example, if we keep using the same phone number, we can recall it even after decades.
You have to rely on long-term memory to memorise all your notes. Committing information to your long-term memory requires two things – concentration and recall. Concentration helps you understand and store the information in your brain properly, and recall helps you retrieve that information quickly.
Ways to enhance your memory while studying
1) Reviewing your notes often
It’s important to review your notes as soon as possible after class, so you don’t forget what you just learned. Also, rereading can help reinforce and clarify concepts that weren’t clear initially. It may seem like a waste of time, but if it means not forgetting things on a test, it’s worth it. Don’t take your first pass at your notes too quickly. Give yourself some time and make sure you understand all of them before moving on. This will ensure that you won’t forget anything or confuse one idea with another later on.
2) Using mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices like information clustering, acronyms and the story method are beneficial. Information clustering involves moving key points into groups of three or four based on their relatedness. When memorising your notes, cluster your notes into groups. You could even assign an object to the group to serve as a mental cue.
Acronyms are shorter and easier to remember. For example, BODMAS (brackets of division, multiplication, addition and subtraction) is an acronym often used to help us remember which parts of an equation to deal with first.
The story method can help you remember a list of words by linking them together in a narrative.
3) Make Flashcards
Flashcards are a superb way to improve your study skills and memory. Here, you break information down into small parts use separate flashcards for each point. Try to keep them all together, though; research has found that studying one large stack of flashcards is much better than dividing them up into smaller subsets and studying them separately.
4) Keep a writing utensil handy
Keeping a pen or pencil in hand is the simplest study hack. With this, you can easily jot down useful information. You’ll be holding a pen when you complete your exam, and even performing the same small actions when you study will help jog your memory on the day.
5) Engage different parts of your brain
You shouldn’t try to memorise your notes by relying solely on one part of your brain. Try to engage multiple senses and use different tactics: draw on a whiteboard, look for unique visual
patterns, recite what you just read to yourself or explain your notes to a friend.
6) Test yourself
Reread your notes and quiz yourself on the main points of your notes. This helps to commit information to your long-term memory. Learning information is only a part of the process. You should be able to test yourself regularly to remember the content. Cover critical points of your notes on a piece of paper and recite them. You can also rewrite definitions on a separate sheet of paper.
The best way to increase your memory retention is to create new neural pathways in your brain. The more you challenge yourself and improve your memory, the easier it will be for you to remember things in the future. Take these tips with a pinch of salt but try them out for yourself!