3 Top Tips for How to Improve your Memory especially for exams
We’ve all done the night before an exam cramming session, which has often granted us the ability to finish the paper. However, if like us you forget that information as soon as the exam is over, you may need to think about trying to improve your memory so that you are able to gain long-term knowledge. This will also make your revision more effective. Memorising is the key skill, its just the ways we memorise that could be more effective than just re-reading textbooks at school over and over again.
Most university courses are based on previous knowledge. So having a shaky foundation from A-level will mean that you will most likely struggle to cope with the new material. There are a whole host of ways you will be able to adjust this, the majority of which won’t require that much extra time, and if you learn to memorise correctly the first time, you’ll save yourself countless hours in the long run.
Approach 1 – Effective Note Taking
Solid evidence has been provided by several studies for the benefits of repetition. You are much more likely to retain information that you have encountered before, as opposed to breezing through the term and then trying to learn everything the night before the exam. In terms of improving your memory, don’t just write down every single word your teacher says, annotate worksheets or powerpoint slides and jot down the additional information your teacher gives you.
Compile your notes at the end of each day and try limiting yourself to one page so that you have to select the most important information only, and rephrase those key points. Your brain will become more involved in the process this way as you are actively analysing the information presented as opposed to passively copying it down.
Further to the exercise of re-assembling your notes down to one page, these pages will become valuable revision material when exams come around. When it gets to the time you’ll be looking back on it, and making even more condensed notes, you will have gone through the material three times, so it will be much more likely that you will have retained the information long-term.
Approach 2 – Mind Palace
You might have heard about mind palace’s from BBC’s Sherlock, but you might not have realised that this is actually a genuine and effective technique for memorisation. It is also one of the oldest methods. Fun fact: the Greek poet Simonides was able to write about an encounter that involved an accident in a banquet hall – and was able to remember all of the victims by just simply conjuring an image of the hall in his mind.
We realise that at first this concept could seem intimidating, and won’t be useful for everyone, but the general idea of it is association. You have to form a connection in your mind between something you would like to remember with a place or object. These connections can span large areas, for example an entire town – each shop and street representing different concepts. We’d recommend trying to choose bizarre scenarios to imagine, as the more eccentric they are the more likely you’ll improve your memory of the content – so go all out.
Approach 3 – Teaching
People often say that teaching is the best way to learn something, as by explaining the topic to someone else, you will gain a much deeper understanding than the surface level comprehension you’ll often get from just learning something for yourself. Often, you’ll find that others need you to be clearer and so you will need to know the information both inside and out in order to explain it properly. By teaching another you’ll become an expert in the topic.
You can try helping your friends with topics they struggle with, or ask your parents if you can explain things to them, even if they don’t understand the subject you are talking about, it will still help you memorise. And if you can help them understand then you know that you’ve done a good job.
Teaching is another form of Active recall. Something we have talked about before in a previous blogs.