Here’s something to remember: Studying and memorization are so inextricably linked that if you don’t have good memory skills, your studying will suffer dramatically. After all, how do you plan on scoring well on a test if you can’t remember the basic facts that are being tested? Many content exams (the Nursing Certification or Teacher Certification exams, for instance) require large amounts of memorization. The good news: there are many proven tips that will help improve your memory and therefore, your test scores, as well. Here are a few of the most important.
- Remember to repeat yourself. Repetition is one of the most important keys to memorizing any information. The brain remembers the things that it considers important. And when you repeat something to yourself over and over, your brain picks up on the cue and considers it important. Gradually, it starts committing that information to long-term memory.
- Remember to involve the right senses. You remember the senses, right? Sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste are how we experience the world around us. According to experts, everyone learns differently, with a different emphasis on the five senses. Some are visual learners (learn best by sight). Others are auditory (learn best by hearing). While others are tactile (learn by touch, taste and smell). If you’re primarily a visual learner, you need to do things such as read and re-read your text and your notes. Auditory learners will benefit from reading out loud to themselves, or taping themselves and playing back the recording. Tactile learners will benefit by getting involved. For instance, the very act of taking notes will help them remember.
- Remember to review often. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll forget information that you thought you’d memorize. The key is to go back after several days and weeks and review it.
- Remember to test your understanding. This key—that of understanding the material—is almost as important to remembering it as repetition is. Test yourself often. How? You can try teaching the concepts to someone else. Or write a couple paragraphs, as though you’re trying to teach it to someone else. Being forced to articulate what you’re learning makes you learn it on a thorough level, not just a shallow level.
There are hundreds of other tips that will help you improve your memory. However, most of them are some variation of these four strategies. Learn these, use these, and then feel free to adapt them to your own situation.
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