When you have important exams on the horizon, you may worry about how you are going to possibly remember all the information you have studied, especially if you are taking multiple classes and studying a variety of topics. It’s important to know that the best way to improve your memory is to organize your brain, so how do you do that? Read on to find out how to improve your short-term memory and get in the right frame of mind to ace your next exam.
Try different strategies
There are so many different ways you can improve your memory retention, so where do you begin? From using mnemonics to writing it out or quizzing yourself, there are multiple ways you can improve your memory and get your brain fired up to learn new things. Did you know that as you age, your brain loses 5% of its nerve cells every decade? This is why we struggle to learn new things the older we get. But the good news is that the brain is flexible, and it can adapt, you can build new pathways, this is called neuroplasticity.
Before you find the perfect strategy to memorize, it’s important to understand the information you are learning first. If you don’t understand the material, you will find it difficult to memorize it when you are tested on it. Spend some time learning from the content in your book and when you feel you are ready, apply the strategy that you feel is the most effective to memorize the material. It’s wise to try different strategies and see why one works best for you.
Think of your learning style
There is not a perfect approach to studying that works for every student because all of our brains process information differently. Scientists have conducted research for years on the best way to learn and retain information and one of the most popular models is the VARK model, which identifies four types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. So, what does this mean? If you prefer learning with graphs and diagrams, you are a visual learner, if you like to record lectures and listen to them, you are an auditory learner, if you learn best by taking written notes and reading them back, you are a reading/writing learner and if you prefer a more hands-on approach and enjoy learning through practice and examples, then you are a kinesthetic learner. Knowing what type of learner you are is highly beneficial when choosing the methods by which you want to improve your memory.
Methods to enhance your memory
Some tips and tricks on how to enhance your memory include reading material just before you sleep, testing yourself on the material you have learned regularly, and linking information with something you already know. Studies have shown that your brain processes and stores information when you sleep, so read over something you want to remember just before you go to bed to see if it helps. Self-quizzing is a fantastic way to memorize information, no matter what type of learner you are, adjust it to suit your learning style, if you are a visual learner, you could read flashcard questions and have answers on the back, if you are an auditory learner you may want to listen to a recording of you reading the questions and answers. Sometimes linking information with something else can create a new pathway and increase the likelihood that you will remember it. For example, you may remember the first few digits of Pi because it’s the last few digits in your phone number.
Practice memorization strategies
Once you have tried several methods, be consistent with your approach. Dedicate some time each day, outside of your normal studying hours to practice your memorization strategies and you will find it easier to absorb new information. Another great way to increase your memory recall is to occasionally change the way you study or your study environment. If you usually study in the evening, why not do an impromptu study session in the morning when you wake up? If you usually work at your desk, why not take all your study materials to the library and study there? Changing things up will increase the effectiveness of your motivation and improve your long-term recall overall.