Have you ever studied long and hard for an exam only to get to the test and not be able to remember what on earth you memorized? It can be an extremely frustrating feeling! I mean, if you put in the hours, you should have something to show for it, right? Unfortunately, some students have a more difficult time memorizing material than others. In this post, I am going to share my top five ways to improve your memorization skills for more effective studying!
1. Memorize in small chunks
One of the most important things you can do to improve your memorization is to separate your studying into smaller chunks. Instead of waiting until the last minute to cram in one-hundred notecards, try starting five days before the exam and memorizing twenty-five notecards a day. Once you’ve memorized a group of twenty-five, go back later that day and test yourself to see what you really know. As you progress, be sure to review the notecards you’ve already memorized to keep them on your mind.
2. Focus on key phrases
Sometimes professors expect us to memorize really long, drawn out definitions. I don’t know about you, but my brain always manages to mess those up. Instead of trying to remember the whole thing, focus on a few key phrases or on understanding the concept. This will help you “save space” for all of the other material you have to memorize.
3. Make up shortcuts
One of my favorite memorization techniques is to come up with silly shortcuts to help me remember things. You can do this by creating an acrostic like PEMDAS for the order of operations or by remembering what the first letter of each word spells out. You can also make shortcuts by finding a letter that both the term and definition share. For some reason, my brain likes this method a lot. So, if I’m struggling with something I will usually try to find a way to make this work.
Here is an example from my Neuroscience Quizlet notecards:
Do you see those big bulky words? I don’t know about you, but for me those are pretty hard to memorize! To help, my friends and I took the first letter of each word and shortened it into LVAP. This is much easier to remember quickly! Once you have this, you can relate L to lateral hypothalamus, V to ventromedial hypothalamus, and so forth. For this notecards, I would also be sure to note that the first two terms end in the same word “hypothalamus” and the last two terms end in the same word “nucleus”. Breaking this information up helps me to retain what I learned and be able to reproduce it on the exam.
4. Say things out loud
Did you know that there are studies that prove that saying things out loud helps you memorize more effectively? It’s true! Apparently, it has something to do with using two senses instead of one. Next time you’re studying, try saying the material out loud as you work through it. Might not want to do this in the library though! People might think you’re a little crazy!
Last but definitely not least is repetition. This is the most straightforward way to improve your memorization skills. As I mentioned above, you can do this by memorizing a few notecards at a time and going back through them to keep the material on your mind. The week before the exam, run through your notecards or study guide several times before test day. This repetition will help you keep the information more long term.
I hope that you find these memorization techniques helpful when studying for your next exam! Remember, study in smaller chunks, focus on key phrases, make shortcuts, study out loud, and repeat! If you enjoyed this post and want more helpful studying tips, be sure to join our fun family and grab our bonus list of studying tools below!
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