Revising several days or even weeks before an upcoming exam is a healthy study habit. For most students, this routine can help them absorb the material better and avoid the consequences of cramming and procrastination. However, sometimes, we may not have all the time in the world to revise. Sometimes, we’re carrying too much academic load and it is just impossible to get things done on time. Moreover, we also want some extra time for ourselves—for fun, for our hobbies and interests, or let ourselves breathe.
Luckily, while the solution may seem challenging, it is definitely not impossible. By mastering the skill of memorizing fast and easily, you won’t need to spend too many hours glued with your study table.
So in this reading, we will be showing you a few simple tips and tricks on how you can remember things more easily and efficiently. Try them out, make them a routine, and you’ll be surprised by how much your memorization skills have improved in just a few days.
When you have too many visual disturbances in your surroundings, whether that’s crumpled pieces of paper or just food crumbs on your study table, you can easily get distracted and lose focus when studying.
Before you start revising, make sure you organize your study area first. For some people, cleaning can also be therapeutic. Decluttering will therefore clear your mind and have more space for new information.
According to a 2013 study from Stanford University, exercise has a good impact on our memory and cognition. The research showed that after a 15-minute exercise routine, participants’ cognitive activities were greatly improved. So if you are experiencing a mental block or just can’t absorb anything at that moment, try walking or jogging for even just 10 minutes to wash those mental obstructions down the drain. Yoga can also make us more relaxed and our brain more open for more information.
A sound mind comes with a sound body. Exercising on a regular basis, eating healthy food, and keeping yourself healthy can gradually improve your overall memory and cognition in the long run.
Reading materials can sometimes make us unmotivated and tired, especially when there are simply too many pages and too many paragraphs for us to absorb. However, with a few coloured highlighters, you can easily highlight the most important parts of the text. After the first read up, it will be easier for you to scan the reading and concentrate on the highlighted parts. Memorizing and understanding will be made easier as you go back and forth in revising the materials.
When at class or revising a certain material, it is important to take notes smartly. Don’t write everything you hear or read—take note of only the most crucial things in the lecture. Otherwise, your notes may only confuse you more.
Your notes will also be more effective if you divide them through sections, whether that’s by topic, author, theory, or subject. Dividing them as such can make your notes and mind more organized.
Taking notes can be substituted by voice recording if you prefer talking out loud while revising. You can then listen to the recordings repeatedly for revision.
A 1996 study conducted at Brandeis University showed that repetitive list-making or note-taking has a great impact on people’s recall and memory. So when you’re having a hard time memorizing jargons, phrases, or sentences, try writing them out on a blank sheet of paper over and over again until you’re confident that you’ve memorized it. Rewriting it again in the exam will be easy by then!
Visual cues or visual learning is also an effective learning style for many people. When revising, try to visualize your materials. You can do this through a lot of ways, such as drawing diagrams, graphs, charts, or anything that can accurately visualize what you’re studying. When trying to remember what you’ve studied during the exam, all you need is to remember the visual cues you created.
If you’re familiar with Sherlock Holmes, you can try and learn his visual cue technique of creating your own “mind palace”. In the ‘palace’, you make associations between things. For example, if you’re trying to memorize historical events and dates, you can associate these in your mind by connecting those events to things around you.
Having a study buddy by your side is certainly a fun way to learn. Try teaching what you have learned to him/her to familiarize yourself with what you have studied.
Taking breaks are definitely not a bad thing to do especially when there is too much to memorize. Revise one topic at a time. Rest for a few minutes to let yourself absorb the information properly before reviewing it again or move on with the next material.
Record, Retain and Retrieve. These are the 3 R’s of Remembering. Always apply them when you are trying to memorize things faster. We can even add another R: Repetition. After all, they will come to our mind naturally if they have been part of the repetitive routines in our lives.
Lastly, and maybe the most important tips of all, is to memorize and learn by heart. You’ll never forget anything if you genuinely understand what you learned. Put in the effort to understand a material properly and try applying them in reality.
There is no one-trick memorizing style or technique that suits everyone. By practicing a mixture of these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to find which technique suits your learning style and soon you will be studying in a more smarter and efficient way.