We’ve all been there. You’re outside of the classroom, minutes before the final, going through your notes, trying to piece everything together before you go in.
But what if we told you that there’s a better way? A more informative way of studying that not many people use? Sit down, relax, and enjoy learning the secrets to memorizing things quicker.
Make sure you understand what you’re learning
Trying to memorize something you don’t truly comprehend is one of the most inexplicable feelings out there. It makes learning so hard and causes a feeling of anxiety, which in turn results in extremely bad memory.
Most people try to visualize the order of the words or the position of the sentence on a particular page when trying to memorize something. No one sets aside some time to read a sentence within a paragraph and understand it, because a memorized sentence has no meaning outside of a certain structure – and if you don’t understand the structure, your memory is useless.
Learn ONLY the most necessary information
Professors don’t usually think about the number of pages or assignments a student has to go through, and they don’t care about assignments you get for other subjects. That’s probably the main reason students try to cut corners. They simply can’t learn everything and complete every assignment– and cutting corners is a bad approach in 9.5 out of 10 cases.
What students need to do is prioritize the things they’re trying to learn and focus only on those. This means that they have to read an entire chapter to understand what’s important, and by the time they do that half of the work is already done.
The serial position effect
Similar to the position of a sentence on a certain page, the serial position effect helps you focus on memorizing better. According to many studies, the human brain memorizes things that are at the beginning and the end better than anything in the middle. You can use this to your advantage by sorting the key parts to the beginning and end of your cheat sheet.
The interference theory
The premise of this interference theory, otherwise known as the Pomodoro Technique, is straightforward – you study in intervals of 15-20 minutes and take a break. However, most people lose their focus during the break and all the previous studying goes to waste, which is why you must DO something else.
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, playing guitar, or trying to get that W (dub) in Fortnite – as long as you’re brain is occupied with something else, you’re good to go for the next study session. Of course, your breaks should last up to 50 minutes, so don’t spend the entire day playing camper in your favorite game.
Learn in pairs
Going through a single lesson every day is not the best approach to studying – yes, we know, schools got it wrong. The best approach to studying is to study in the morning, then study some more in the evening.
That way you will create a connection in your brain and in case you forget something from the first lesson, the second one will help you get back on track.
Build a mind palace
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes, one of the best detectives in the world, couldn’t remember the names of the planets in our solar system? The reason why that was is that he intentionally forgot the insignificant things to memorize the more important ones.
He could also ‘travel’ through his brain searching for the right piece of information – and he could do this for hours. The way he would find information is by connecting it to a certain object. The best thing about it is that you can do the same thing.
Whatever it is that you’re studying, connect it to an object that can help you remember – or at least give it a try and see how it goes.
Similar to stacking habits, where you link one habit to another, stacking words can help you memorize things better. For example, if you’re learning Japanese and you get to the word nail, you can look up hammer or wall, too… These things are logically used in a sentence with nail, which is why related words help you connect things better.
Yes, we know – no one likes the sound of their voice because it might sound strange or unpleasant, but stick with us on this one. Language professors say that to memorize a new word, you need to come across it at least seven times. This number varies between people, but the idea is the same – the more you use a word, the better the chances you’ll remember it.
Now, when you think about memorizing, your first encounter with a certain lesson is visual – you are reading it. However, if you record yourself and listen to the recording, you’ll be able to visualize the text and memorize it better. Simple, but effective.
Your body can help you learn, too
You can literally use your body while learning. Muscle memory can be triggered with expressive gestures, so the next time you’re studying try this – stand in front of a mirror and try to be expressive with what you learn. Anger and awe are emotions that have the strongest effect on us, so you might want to start there.
When you think about it, this makes perfect sense as it explains how actors get to memorize so many lines every single day. Their brains connect their body with what they’re saying – if this doesn’t get your grades up, we don’t know what will. Just don’t go around yelling at professors.