Is it really possible to improve your memory? We use our memories for everything, whether it's routine everyday activities or remembering that formula on a test. However, most of us think of memory as a set capability that is innate to everyone. This is simply not the case - there are plenty of things that you can do to help improve your memory!
Obviously, we already have ways to memorize and recall certain bits of information. Whether it’s setting up calendars and reminders, creating to-do lists, or taking and revising notes, we have become experts in setting important and useful information into our brains - information that we expect to use imminently.
But what can we do about improving and cementing your long-term memory? It will obviously take some more effort and tweaking of your normal routine, but there are definite strategies that you can use to get more out of your memory.
Before a big exam or test, be sure to try some of these tested techniques for improving your long-term memory. These methods can substantially improve memory, recall, and retention of crucial information.
2) Focus your attention when studying
Actually paying attention is one of the most important steps to a good memory. Although this may seem obvious, it might be surprising how many people actually fail at this. Sure, it may be easy to study halfheartedly to ace a quiz the next day, but in order for this information to get into your long-term memory, you need to be actively thinking and attending to the information you are consuming. It should be the only thing you think about at the moment, and the thought of it should carry on in your brain. Try to study without any distractions such as TV, notifications, noise, and music, however, this varies from person to person and you should try to discover your own preferences.
3) Take your time
When studying for maximum retention and maximum absorption into your long-term memory, you have to spread material over adequate time. Only in this way can you process and store all of the information effectively. It is better to make little, consistent efforts throughout your entire course/school year than try to put all of your effort into a marathon session. Your brain needs time to analyze and digest information, and you have to be careful not to overwhelm it, as some bits are inevitably going to fall through the cracks.
4) Mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices are a technique that is widely used in schools these days. However, they are truly a good way to aid recall and sink concepts into your long-term memory. They allow you to compact information into a simple format, and promote connections and associations between new information and familiar concepts. Finally, try to mix up your mnemonics. The best mnemonics often utilize humor, novelty, or concepts that are very near and dear to you.
Many people study better and benefit from visualization information in their brains. Pay attention to the visual aids, charts, and graphics in your materials and textbooks. These can be useful in breaking up the monotony of huge blocks of text. Furthermore, they are very useful in allowing your brain to process information in a different way, which aids recall and memory, but also makes studying more interesting for you, as well.
6) Relate new information to existing knowledge
When you are delving into new material, you should take time to think about connecting this information to what you already know - whether it's from previous courses or life experiences. When this happens, new concepts may "click" into place, entrenching them into your brain with pre-existing knowledge already found in your long-term memory. These links that you form can dramatically increase your chances of holding onto new information and help these new concepts "sink in".
7) Vary your study routine
Another great way to increase your recall and memory efficiency is to change up your study routine. If you like to study in your room, maybe try out the neighborhood cafe or the local library. If you like to study into the night, try spending some mornings reviewing your study notes. Perhaps your brain works better at different times, or there are fewer distractions at that particular time of day. You never know if you’ll find something that works better!
8) Get some sleep
The importance of sleep for memory cannot be understated. We have all heard the saying “sleep on the problem”. This is because sleep stimulates the brain and can actually help new information sink in faster and help recall work more efficiently. So next time you decide to study late into the night, try and think if your time could be better spent sleeping on the information you have studied already, instead of trying to cram more information that may not sink in.
When you’re trying to study for a big exam or just wrapping your head around all the content you are going to have to learn, it can be daunting and intimidating to think about how and if you’ll be able to fit it all into your brain. However, using these methods, I hope that you can find some that are useful for you and can aid you in your studies.
Cherry, Kendra. “Proven Techniques That Really Work to Improve Your Memory.” Verywell Mind, 30 Sept. 2019, www.verywellmind.com/great-ways-to-improve-your-memory-2795356.
Accessed 1 Apr. 2022.
Macon, Sophie. “How to Improve Memory for Studying: 18 Effective Ways - 300Hours.” 300hours.com, 27 Dec. 2021, 300hours.com/how-to-improve-memory-for-studying/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2022.
Youssef-Shalala, Amina. “Studying for Exams? Here’s How to Make Your Memory Work for You.” The Conversation, 6 Oct. 2019, theconversation.com/studying-for-exams-heres-how-to-make-your-memory-work-for-you-124586. Accessed 1 Apr. 2022