In many ways, study skills are synonymous with memory skills. Your study will only get you better test grades if it leads to your memorizing the material for which you’ll be quizzed. So let’s take a look at some tips that are sure to improve your memory and make your study time more effective.
Tip 1 – Over-learn the material
rather than learning it just well enough to pass the test. If you’re like most students, you’re probably tempted to study material until you get a single error-free recitation of it. But to really memorize it well enough to ensure that you know it for the test, you need many error-free repetitions.
Tip 2 – Use the word-substitution method.
This is good for memorizing information which is difficult to visualize. For instance, the word thermodynamics could be turned into the two words, Thermos and dynamite. Now you can create a visual image of a piece of dynamite carrying its Thermos to work–to remind you that thermodynamics is the conversion of energy and heat to do work.
Tip 3 Create your own handouts.
Did you ever wonder why your instructors give you handouts with maps, outlines, diagrams, etc.? It’s because visual aids help solidify information in your memory. So even if they don’t give you the necessary handouts, you can create the same effect by making your own handouts.
Tip 4 – Desecrate your textbooks.
Your class books are not collector’s items; they’re made to be used and abused. So underline, highlight and jot down important key words as you read through the chapters. Just don’t go overboard with it. Remember: emphasizing everything emphasizes nothing.
Tip 5 Create practice tests and take them before the real thing.
This does more than to check if you’re ready for the real exam. It’s a known fact that your memory is enhanced when you engage in retrieval practice (recalling data from your long-term memory). And taking a test is an excellent retrieval practice.
Tip 6 Teach the material to somebody else.
Set an appointment with a friend, preferably from the same class, when you will teach him some challenging material from the unit and when he will teach you something else challenging. Knowing that you have to teach it to someone else makes the information more important to you. And it’s a known fact that we remember the things we consider important.
There are other things you can do to improve your memory, but these six should do a lot to make sure that your study time is effective time.
The Memory Cloud Method
As you study for an exam, make sure that you read the material two or more times to ensure that you understand and have totally absorbed the material. From your reading, create a list that outlines the most important points in the material. The second time you read the material, your brain will naturally more easily absorb this important information.
Now expand the list by adding more points. Read again and your brain will more easily absorb these new points….and then you look for new points to add to your growing cloud.
Label Significant Points
After you’re sure you’ve finished reading and taking notes, create labels for all significant points. Rewrite the list in an ascend / descend order, with the most important items at or near the top. Number these items, because as you do so, your brain will associate each item with a number, giving you an improved chance of remembering that information.
Draw a Cloud with a Distinctive Shape
Finish your cloud by drawing in a physical cloud. Try to give it a distinctive shape that will be easy to remember. The cloud will serve as an additional aid to bring the points back to your remembrance. The cloud works on several levels. First, the act of taking notes and then re-reading solidifies information in your brain. The numbering adds another memory tag, and the visual element of the distinctive cloud gives you something to try to recall as you take the exam.
There are some memory techniques that work well with groups. The Cloud is not one of them. That’s because it relies on you taking notes on what YOU considered important. Plus it relies on you creating a cloud image that is memorable to you. This takes some practice, but once you get the hang of the memory cloud, you’ll find yourself coming back to the memory cloud over and over again.
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