Enlarging Your Memory Capacities: Practical Tips
Year 12 subjects require strong memory work. This can be discouraging for some students, like it was for me, as sometimes I felt like information went in one ear and out the other! But the reassuring truth is that memorising information is something you can learn – and if savvy about the right techniques, you will remember things better than those who “naturally” have a good memory.
The key to improving memory is to link what you want to remember to some sort of existing meaning. The way your brain keeps or retains information is through links to other pieces of information.
Here are my practical tips which anyone can adopt:
- One lifestyle adjustment which improves memory is regular exercise. Improving blood flow to your brain enhances your capacities. Even if you don’t want to go out for a jog, at least go for a walk every now and then, or just move around your house.
- Acronyms. If there’s a sentence you need to remember or several elements to one concept, invent your own acronym! By simply spending the time to make one up, you are far more likely to remember the idea. This also works really well for abstract ideas.
- Chunking – you know what I’m talking about, Psychology students… This memory technique is traditionally used to group numbers, increasing our ability to remember long strings of numbers (think of how you would split a mobile number into three groups). Chunking also works when trying to remember a list of items. For example, when memorising a shopping list, you could link a few items to particular aisles.
- Do not underestimate the value of a solid night’s sleep! Studies on the matter are clear: more sleep = better ability to learn. One hack is to study before you sleep, as the information you learn is more likely to be consolidated while you sleep. Other researchers believe that taking a short nap after learning new information considerably helps your memory – what a good excuse for a nap!
Keep in mind that everyone has a different learning style. If you don’t know what yours is, I recommend finding an online quiz (such as this one: https:////www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml). This will tell you whether you are visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic or a combination! This is invaluable to know the most effective way for you to study.
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