8 Proven Strategies To Improve Your Memory

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Matrix Education

If you are revising for an upcoming exam, you probably want some tips and tricks to help you remember the mammoth pile of information in front of you. We’ve compiled a list of several scientifically proven memorisation strategies that can easily be incorporated into your study routine to help boost memory retention.

1. Distributed Practice

This is a technique whereby the information that needs to be studied is distributed over many short study sessions. The alternative is massed practice, where the student conducts fewer but longer study sessions, such as when a student crams for an exam. In the former case, the information is learned more slowly but is retained for much longer than in the latter situation. Students can apply this technique by scheduling weekly study sessions, rather than cramming all their study sessions in the week before the exam. In these sessions, students should review a mixture of topics from varying subjects.

2. Use Mnemonics

Some techniques include:

  • Acronymns: These are words that are made out of the first letter of several words. For example, ROY G BIV is often used to remember the colours of the rainbow
  • Narrative methods: This involves making up a story to remember a series of words, which are incorporated within the story
  • Rhymes such as I before E except after C.

3. Interleaving

This refers to studying a mixture of topics in one study session rather than just working on one topic at a time. For example, If you are studying arithmetic, you should answer a mixture of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction questions, rather than doing them one at a time. It’s important to do this so you learn how to distinguish between different problems and which procedure you should use in an exam.

4. Retrieval Practice 

One way to keep your memories fresh is to continually practice retrieving them. Using flash cards or repeatedly testing yourself is a great way to retrieve because you are continually recalling an idea from memory. This strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept and makes it easier to retrieve the information in the future. An additional benefit of testing yourself is that you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and focus your future study efforts on what you don’t know.

5. Generating 

This occurs when you try to give an answer before it’s given to you. You could apply this technique by asking yourself questions and trying to answer them before asking for an answer sheet.

6. Elaborative Interrogation

This can be applied by generating plausible explanations to statements during study sessions. For example, if you learn that one chemical element is heavier than another, you should ask yourself why this is the case and then come up with an answer to the question. By doing this, you are forcing yourself to understand it, which improves retention. Students can do this by asking themselves questions as they are reading from their textbook or class notes.

7. Chunking

This works by breaking big pieces of information into smaller chunks and then grouping pieces of information together. For example, it’s easier to memorise a phone number when it’s “chunked” into groups of 3 or 4. This can be applied by grouping all your maths formulas/science equations into its modules, remembering the number of items in each of these module chunks and then learn each chunk as a group rather than all the pieces of information individually.

8. Understand the information

  • Try to make sense of the information you are trying to learn by relating it to your pre-existing knowledge and ideas. It is particularly effective if this material is made personally meaningful. For example, when you read your textbook, try to relate the information to your own life and experiences.
  • Use your own words when writing your notes, rather than simply copying sections from a textbook or website.
  • Explain the material to a friend or family member.
  • Organise the learning material in a meaningful way. It is much easier to remember a series of connected ideas rather than separate points.

 

 

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