Strategies to improve your memory
Did you know that
- You have to pay attention to something in order to remember it?
- 60-80% of material is forgotten if not reviewed within 24 hours?
- Your brain actively works on memory processing while you sleep?
- Your brain uses 20% of the calories your body takes in per day, so you need to eat well to remember better?
3 Stages to remembering
Attention is the gateway to memory, so consciously pay attention to what you are trying to learn.
Stage 1: Getting started
Get an overview (the "big picture" of a lecture topic or reading) before you start
- Determine what is important by focusing on introductions, summaries, headings and terminology
- Create questions to help you get interested in the topic before you start
- Look for the answers to your questions while you listen or read
Stage 2: Learning the material
Work with the information to understand it:
- Answer questions and clarify meanings
- Focus on steps or processes
- Establish connections with « big picture » and to what you already know
Organize information–your brain likes it that way!
- Timelines (History)
- Charts (for comparing info)
- Mind-maps and Diagrams
Practice what you have learned
- Say it in your own words out loud
- Discuss with others
- Write summaries, do problems, map out ideas
- Leave lots of time to practice (math/science) problems
- Memorize facts, dates, and definitions
- Review frequently
Spread learning out over time
- Try doing 50-minute study blocks a few times a week per course
- Plan rewards to sustain your motivation
- Take short breaks —this improves your ability to process and remember information
- Don’t study the same subject all day – switch topics and courses
- Review regularly
Stage 3: Remembering what you’ve learned:
Test yourself –it’s important to find out what you don’t know so you can learn it properly!
- Use flash cards
- Use ‘look-away’ techniques: test yourself then check if you were right
- Write summaries without looking
- Study with a friend or in a study group
- Solve math problems without looking at the answers first
Stretching your knowledge further
- Talk your way through your whole course as if you were teaching it to someone else
- Follow up on anything you do not remember/understand to fix knowledge deficits right away.
- Test yourself on math problems from random sections of course rather than linking them to a particular chapter.
- Create a bank of test questions for you or a study partner; make them challenging!