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Methods to Improve Your Memory in School

Why do we forget? If our memory is permanent, why do we sometimes unable to retrieve information from our long term memory? Memories are quirky.  I might be able to remember events happened many years ago, but fail to recall my new friend’s phone number or where I left my I-Pad. There is one general rule for memory which is “the more your use information, the less you lose them”.

The fact is forgetting is not all bad. As William James, a pioneer memory researcher, said: “If we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.” To discard the clutter of useless or out-of-date information – where we parked the car yesterday, a friend’s old address, restaurant orders already cooked and served- is surely a blessing. A good memory is helpful, but so is the ability to forget.

We store the information that is important for us. But we know that more often, our memory dismays and frustrates us.  So, the question is if there are some strategies to improve our memory. A common question that many students ask is that; is there any method that we can use to study less and to get a good grade? My answer to that question is very simple and straightforward; “Learn the concepts, do not memorize them.” The following are some methods that everybody, especially students can use to improve their memory performances:

  1. Study Repeatedly. To master material, use distributed (spaced) practice. To learn a concept, provide yourself with many separate study sessions: Take advantage of life’s intervals – riding on the school bus, walking across school campus, waiting for class to start. To memorize specific facts or figures, rehearse the name or number you are trying to memorize, wait a few second, rehears again, wait a little longer, rehears again, then wait longer still and rehears yet again. The waits should be as long as possible without losing the information. New memories are weak; exercise them and they will strengthen. Speed-reading (skimming) complex material – with minimal rehearsal – yields little retention. Rehearsal and critical reflection help more. It pays to study actively.
  2. Make the Material Meaningful. To build a network of retrieval cues, take text and class notes in your own words. (Mindlessly repeating someone else’s words is relatively ineffective.) To apply the concepts to your own life, form images, understand and organize information, relate the material to what you already know or have experienced, and put it in your own words. Increase retrieval cues by forming associations. Without such cues, you may find yourself stuck when a question uses phrasing different from the routine forms you memorized.
  3. Activate Retrieval Cues. Mentally re-create the situation and the mood in which your original learning occurred. Return to the same location. Hog your memory by allowing one thought to cue the next.
  4. Use Mnemonic Devices. Make up a story to associate items with memorable images or jingles. Vivid images or words in familiar rhymes can act as pegs on which you can “hang” items. Chunk information into acronyms by creating a word from the first letters of the to-be-remembered items. Create rhythmic rhymes (“I before e, except after c”).
  5. Minimize Interference. Study before sleeping. Do not schedule back-to-back study times for topics that are likely to interfere with each other, such as Spanish and French.
  6. Sleep More. During sleep, the brain organizes and consolidates information for long-term memory. Sleep-deprivation disrupts this process.
  7. Test Your Knowledge, Both to Rehearse It And to Help Determine What You Do Not Know. Don’t be lulled into overconfidence by your ability to recognize information. Test your recall using the preview questions. Outline sections on a blank page. Define the terms and concepts listed at each module’s end before turning back to their definitions. Take practice tests; the study guides that accompany many texts are a good source for such tests.

If you have any question on memory improvement, please contact Reza Farahani at 201.962.7777 or Allendale@Grade PowerLearning.com

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