As a student it is necessary for you to pick up certain skills that will enhance your ability to remember the material you are studying. Here we will discuss four skills that can improve your memory.


Learn main ideas first, then details :

At the beginning of the semester, preview your textbook for each chapter to get an idea about what you will be learning in the class. Prior to reading each chapter, preview the chapter to gain an understanding of the topics that will be covered in the chapter and what you will be expected to learn from your reading of the chapter. This will provide a framework for understanding the details you will gain as you read the chapter.

Make the information relevant:

Try to make connections between what you are learning in class and your everyday life or your future career. Making the information meaningful to you will make the information easier to learn and remember.Link the information you already know with new information. Creating associations also makes the information easier to learn and remember. Information is stored in our brains according to a scheme. Creating these associations helps to fit the new information into the schemes that already exist in your brain.


Use your body and your senses to help you build memory:

It has been said that “people remember 90 percent of what they do, 75 percent of what they see, and 20 percent of what they hear.” Learning actively can involve your whole body. You can stand up and talk aloud as you study, using your arms, legs, eyes, ears and voice. Getting your body involved in the study process puts energy into the study process and makes it less boring. Maybe you have already used this strategy when preparing for a speech; however, it can work for learning other materials as well.

Relax :

Have you ever been unable to recall information in a test situation but an hour later were able to remember the information with clarity? This may suggest that you were not relaxed during the test. Relaxation allows more blood to flow to the brain and thus allows us to think more clearly. Our brains are alert when we are relaxed and this will enable us to perform more effectively and efficiently.

Use visualization:

The more visual you can make the learning process, the easier it will be to recall the information. Be creative and use your imagination. Create mental images that you can associate with the information you are trying to learn.


Overlearn the material :

Short-term memory is not very effective in test situations. Our short-term memories have limited capacities and do not respond well under stress. Long-term memory is much more reliable in stressful situations and long-term memory has an unlimited capacity. Moving information from short-term to long-term memory requires time, energy, understanding and repetition. When you are studying material, study it multiple times using different study techniques. Also vary the order in which you study the material. The “recency effect” says that we remember what we heard or learned last the best. The “primacy effect” says that we remember what we heard or learned first the best. If we always study material in the same order, the same material is always first, last and in the middle. It is likely that one will have the least recall of the information from the middle of study session so it is important to study this information first or last some of the time.

Adjust your attitude about learning:

If you find a subject boring or uninteresting, it will be harder to learn. If you are taking flying lessons to become a pilot, you will tend to pay close attention to the instructor because learning the material is very important for your safety. While classes do not present the same life or death concerns, try to have a positive attitude about your classes because it will enhance your ability to recall the information. If you believe something is going to difficult and you will never learn it, it probably will be difficult to learn the material. Wanting to learn the material and believing that you can will contribute to the ease with which the material is learned.

Practice multiple techniques for each class :

Use a variety of study techniques to learn the material. If you are trying to learn how to solve math or engineering problems, do the problem, talk yourself through the problem to ensure that you understand how you got from Step A to Step B to Step C, and then review the process with a friend. If you are trying to learn material from a chapter in a sociology book for a test, use SQ3R to read the chapter, review your class notes periodically, and write new terms on note cards that you carry with you and review when you have a few idle minutes. There are many techniques that can be used for different classes. The same techniques are probably not the most useful techniques for all of your classes so it is important to decide which techniques to employ, given the type of material you must learn for each class.


Plan review time regularly:

It’s actually better if review methods vary. For instance, you can review your notes silently, read them aloud and listen to yourself, write down main points from your notes, create ways to apply the information, test yourself on your notes or teach the information to a friend. Using various methods for review will help you gain a deeper understanding of the material. More active (versus passive) review methods will also help you retain the information more fully.

If you can’t remember something, brainstorm:

Not being able to recall information is a part of the learning process. The trick is to create connections between the information you are trying to learn and the information you already know. So, if you are unable to remember something, brainstorm the information you do know related to the topic. If two concepts are similar and you remember information about one of them, recall this information and you may find that you are able to recall the information about the other. In the learning process, try to create examples to help you recall the information. If the professor used examples in class, recall his/her examples. Making connections between the material you know and them material you are trying to learn will help you recall the less familiar material when you need it.