To be a successful student, you not only need to learn information, but you need to retain it as well! No matter who you are, everyone struggles to remember things from time to time, whether it's a theory you studied or where you put down your keys. Fortunately, you can use these tricks to train your memory for use as a super-powerful tool.
Using mnemonics to remember important information can make your life much easier. Mnemonics can take many forms, such as an acronym that replaces a list (like HOMES for the five Great Lakes), or an association or rhyme that helps you recall a name or other fact (such as Tall Tom or “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”).
If you’re a visual learner, try thinking about your written notes as images. For example, to remember the names of the halogen elements—fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine—you might combine the names into an image of someone cleaning the floor (fluorine) of a diner (iodine) with a broom (bromine) and chlorine bleach. Often the more detailed (or more bizarre) the image, the better you'll remember it! For some visual learners, drawing flow charts and tables can also be helpful. While not everyone benefits from these techniques, many people do find that pictures linger in their memory better than words.
The more you use your powers of memorization, the stronger they'll get. Playing memory games in your spare time can help your memory get used to storing and retrieving information. Next time you're on a study break, challenge your friends to a game of "I went to the store and bought." In this game, you list one item, then another person lists your item plus an additional item, and this continues with each person adding another item to the list. The challenge is to memorize the order of the words without forgetting any.
Psychology studies show that people learn much more effectively when they focus solely on one task at a time (meaning no multitasking!). Your study sessions should be free from distractions, including TV, radio, conversations with friends, or a phone constantly buzzing with calls. If the idea of knuckling down with no distractions sounds scary, schedule shorter study sessions with breaks in between. It's amazing how much you can achieve in just 20 minutes of focused study, compared to an hour-long session where you have Facebook open in the background and your friends talking to you on chat.
What you put into your body can affect how your brain works. To boost brain power, eat a balanced diet containing proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and avoid consuming too much sugar or caffeine. In particular, Omega-3s are thought to be particularly important for brain health and can be found in fish, spinach, walnuts, flaxseed and a variety of other foods.
- 10 Mnemonic Tricks for Never Forgetting Anything Again
- Multi-Tasking Adversely Affects the Brain's Learning Systems
- 7 Tricks To Improve Your Memory
- How to Improve Your Memory
Explore our programs in the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Education.