Tips to Help You Study: For Better Memory Retention

Tips to Help You Study: For Better Memory Retention

What most people don’t know is that the main goal of memorization is make sure the information moves from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.  Recall is the physical process your brain goes through when it searches for the information you are trying to remember. Use the following tips to improve your retention and recall. Try using a combination of them for the best results!

When you want to remember something it is MOST important to make sure you actually understand it.  This act of understanding is the main step to transferring this new information to the long-term memory. The best way to test your understanding of the material is to teach it to someone else. This process also tests how much of the information you remember.

Relate to Old Information

When you are trying to commit something to memory, it is good to figure out a way to connect it to old information you already know. Facts you already know have a specific location in your brain. During recall, it is much easier for new information to be found when it is paired with related the old information.

Mnemonics are tools to reorganize information to make it easier to remember. A very popular tactic is creating an acrostic. With an acrostic, you take the first letter of each word in a group and create a more memorable (or funny) phrase with them. For instance, to remember the order of operations, “Parenthesis, Exponent, Minus Division Addition, Subtraction“ you can also use the phrase, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” Another popular memory tool is acronyms.  In an acronym, the beginning letter of each item to remember is used to create a new word. For the order of operations, that word is “PEMDAS.”

Although the goal is to move information from the short-term to long-term memory, information still needs to be added to the short-term memory. The issue with our short-term memory is that it can only hold 7 items at a time. If you “chunk” the information into groups, your short-term can more easily retain it. This is why our phone numbers and social security numbers are written the way they are. Instead of having to remember 7 or 9 individual numbers, we have to instead remember 3 “chunks “of numbers.

Incorporate Senses
When you connect new information with different senses you are making connections to many different parts of the brain, instead of just one.  The more connections in your brain, the more likely your brain is going to find the information during recall. Read the passage aloud, draw what you are learning, or do jumping jacks while you are memorizing important vocabulary.

Remove Distractions!
Probably one of the biggest issues with studying is what is distracting you. It is important to make sure you’re studying in an environment that is not only quiet, but absent of personal distractions. Still, it can be difficult to stop self-created distractions. Try logging out of your Facebook and social media accounts.  If possible, disconnect your computer from the Internet altogether. If your mind is what is distracting you, try using a note pad to help clear your mind. Call this your “Worry Pad”. Whenever a distracting thought pops up in your head, write it down for later.

It’s important to realize everybody is different. Some of these tips will work better for others. The best way to use this information is to apply many tips to create a study style that works the best for you. Good luck studying!

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