If you ask me, I usually say I have a pretty good memory. I can spend only two days studying and when I sit down to write an exam I can remember exactly where in my notes the information can be found and what the professor about it. However, I also can be very absentminded. I can count numerous times when I have forgotten my phone or keys in the library before a presentation or realize I left my passport at home as I am approaching the international border. And then two weeks ago, I made plans to go to one of the Learning Center’s Academic Success Workshops on memory, and what do you know, I am already home before I realize I forgot to go. It was at that point I decided to do a little research on improving memory and share my foolproof memory techniques with all my loyal readers. After all, there are only 19 days until exam week and 24 days until summer break!
3 Tips for Improving Memory – From the Experts
- Give your brain a workout: “Use It or Lose It.” Like muscles, the more you use it, the better memory gets. The less you use it, the worse memory gets. This may not be a problem for the intense 8 months (or more) each year we are in school, but once those summer months come (or you graduate!), be sure to keep your memory in shape!
- Use mnemonic devices. Create acronyms to remember lists or associate a visual image with a word to remember it better. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel either; I learned this “hand-mnemonic” device when I was in 8th grade and it came in handy when I was studying mitosis for an anatomy and physiology exam a few years ago. Check out this article for more mnemonic device examples.
- Pay attention while studying. Now this one seems obvious, but I find myself spacing out at times when I spend hours in a row studying. You can’t remember something you have never learned, and you can’t learn if you don’t pay attention to it! Find a place to study without interruptions. Or my solution, find someone who will study with you to keep you on task!
3 Memory Techniques from an “Exam-Writing Veteran” (Me)
- Don’t just read or write it, teach it! I do the best on exams when I can spend at least 50% of my time studying with other classmates. Of course I first read over the information to make sure I understand the material, but if I really want to learn something, I take turns with whomever I am studying with to teach the material. By saying the information out loud and explaining it, I almost always remember it on an exam.
- Over-Learn. Don’t be afraid of being labeled an overachiever, the more you learn, the more you will remember! Don’t miss an opportunity to review just one more time. That being said, be sure to give your mind a break at least 15 minutes leading up to an exam.
- Relax. One of the best things you can do for your memory is taking time to relax. Be sure eat proper foods, make time to exercise, and give yourself downtime before an exam. Relaxation will make you feel better overall while giving you the clarity and ability to recall facts faster.