You walk into the exam hall and are gripped by the sudden fear that a whole year’s worth of work is about to be wiped clean from your mental hard drive. If this sounds familiar, fret not! More often than not, the opposite happens once you’ve picked up the pen.
Studying shouldn’t primarily be about clocking in X amount of hours. There are myriad techniques out there to facilitate you in studying smarter, not harder. Calm those pre-examination jitters with these techniques
Organisation is fundamental to memory recall. With notes for one specific module strewn across a notebook that also shares its pages with a few other subjects, all in no particular order, the clutter does zero favours for you.
This stage is the most laborious, unlike the actual studying, but it will make the latter feel undeservedly like a walk in the park.
Make the time to sort module-specific materials. Staple them, label them with coloured stickers – it saves leafing through piles of unrelated notes to find that one specific handwritten page from an epoch ago that is absolutely critical to you understanding a semester’s module.
Physically decluttering and organising conjures a sense of order in the mind.
Not as terrifying as its spelling, this is one of the easiest and most convenient study hacks. Mnemonics are basically strings of letters or phrases you find easy to remember that help you remember something else.
It’s condensing information with the least amount of effort. Example, what are the colours of the rainbow? Roy G. Biv
That is: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
Perhaps you’ll remember this one from piano lessons: Every Good Boy Deserves Fruits
… or ar least a variation of the above. But you get the picture.
3. Visual memory? Capitalise on it!
Stuck on a question? Have you ever found yourself picturing the actual page the answer is on in the book and then finally it comes to you?
A few of us are blessed with photographic memories. Imagine just having to think of a picture or image to instantly recall a piece of information!
The rest of us can still make use of this principle to help our recall, however, by making mind maps and spider maps for example.
Express your notes in a pictorial, visually compelling fashion and use this to jolt your memory when you try to recall what you’ve learned!
4. Turn it into a story
Crafting a story is a great trick to aid memory recall. It doesn’t need to be as lengthy as a book, hardly even a chapter! But two to three lines would certainly do the trick, especially for complex information that’s plain tricky.
You can begin by firstly associating images with the information you would like to remember. Subsequently, piece each bit of information together in the form of a story that’s vividly narrative.
There are many examples online to help you.
5. Mind palaces
The technical term is “Method of Loci” and it’s one of the oldest memory techniques, dating back to Roman and Greek times.
Famous mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown revealed in his 2006 book, Tricks of the Mind, that he uses memory palaces.
Starting small, you can begin with these steps:
- Visualise a place – it can be a building, location. Populate this image with its details. What’s on the sides of the room? What’s occupying the area?
- Associate each of the features you imagine, like a wooden table for example, to a reasonable chunk of information such as a chemical formula. It’s crucial to think about the pair in depth here – learn the information and its associated imagery.
- Now all you have to do is retrace your steps to your mind palace. Walk yourself through your imagination and pick out the objects you’ve linked important chunks of information with.
… or something to that effect!
Rhyming is an age old technique for remembering things. You don’t need to be an accomplished poet to give rhyming a go. The key objective here is that it is memorable for you!
Rhyming is effective for remembering lists, too. An extremely basic example would be the number rhyme system:
1 – Bun
2 – Shoe
4 – Door
5 – Hive
6 – Sticks
7 – Heaven
8 – Bait
9 – Wine
10 – Pen
This is by no means a comprehensive list of memory techniques, but these tips and tricks should certainly aid in increasing your capacity for learning facts and figures. Studying smarter will enable you to absorb the astronomical amount of information you’re facing a lot easier.
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