When you have many small tidbits of information to memorize, like a list of words and their meanings or a list of dates and events, there are some simple tricks you can use that make remembering easier. We’ve put together some good ideas that can give you an edge when it’s time to study.
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A Little Understanding; a Big Difference
When it’s time to memorize, knowing a little bit about how our brains work can really help. Our memories are not all stored in the same place. Different kinds of actions are remembered in different parts of the brain. There’s short-term memory, long-term memory, muscle memory and more. Some people remember what they see more easily, while others remember what they’ve heard or what they’ve done.
A good trick to increase your odds of remembering is to use a study method that puts the information in more than one part of your brain. That might sound difficult, but it really isn’t. Here’s the key: don’t just read information and expect to remember; write it down and say it out loud. This simple process ensures that the information is going to several different areas of your brain, making it easier to find later.
Do It Again...and Again...and Again
The next thing to know is that repetition is essential. Repetition is really important. Repetition builds success. To remember ideas or concepts, try rewording them a few different ways to ensure you fully understand them. For simple facts such as names and dates, information that shouldn’t be changed, repetition is the glue that will help them stick in your brain.
You might be lucky and have a super brain that catches everything the first time. But even then, you encounter a ton of information every day, and there are ways to make it easier for you to remember later.
A Simple Method
Here’s one way to get more from your study time. Take a blank sheet of paper. Make a column down the left side of the paper. Now, inside that column, copy down all of the facts you need to remember. The smaller you write, the more information you can fit on a page, BUT the harder it is to read and check later. Write your information down in a size that is efficient but also comfortable to read. As you write the information down, be sure to say it out loud (NOT in the library).
Now, turn the paper over. Make a column down the left side of the paper. Try to write down as much information as you can from memory. Don’t worry if you can only remember a couple of things. Once you’ve written down everything you can remember, fold the paper over so the completed column on the back is next to the incomplete column on the left. Copy down everything that you couldn’t remember.
When you are done, fold that left-hand column back so that you can’t see it anymore. Make another column and try again. You’ll probably remember a little more this time. When you’ve finished writing down everything you can remember, unfold the paper and check the corrected list on the left against the list you just made in the next column over.
Once again, copy down everything you couldn’t remember, saying the information out loud as you write. Now, fold the two columns back so you can’t see them anymore and try again. Keep doing this until you can write the entire column without missing any information. If you really want to be sure you’ve got it, keep going until you can write down all the information without any mistakes three times in a row. It may take a few sheets of paper until you can successfully write everything down from memory. Got it? Cool!
Take a fresh sheet of paper, make a column down the left and write all the information down from memory. Okay. Time for a break.
At the start of your next study session, start with the information you’ve “already memorized”. Take the piece of paper you used at the very end of your last study session, flip it over to its blank side, make a column down the left and try to write down everything from memory. Don’t be surprised if a few facts don’t come to you quickly. Try hard to remember as much as you can, but when you get stuck and can’t remember any more, fold the paper over and check your results, copying down all the missing information. Keep repeating the process until you can do it all correctly three times in a row.
Be sure to use a sturdy paper that is thick enough to hide the answers on the back, something like Hammermill Fore® Multi-Purpose. You can also print out our helpful Study Guide Templates to save you some time!
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