How often has this happened to you; you studied a theory and you weren’t able to remember it when the same question came for the exam, or you weren’t able to recollect the points of a topic taught in class. The reasons for these are several, either you weren’t able to follow what was taught in class or the method used may have been ineffective or you haven’t slept enough. Whatever the case, it is not too late to fix this. By following a few simple Tips your memory can be improved.
Tip 1: Follow a balanced diet; engage in Physical Activity and Sleep adequately
For your brain to function at its optimum level it is absolutely necessary for one to eat a nutritious diet, exercising the entire body especially in the morning and sleep sufficiently. By exercising the body even your mind is exercised. Apart from this getting enough of sleep is important because just as your body requires rest so also your mind requires rest to be able to function effectively. All these aspects affect your attention span and play a vital role in your ability to learn new information.
Tip 2: Keep your brain active
Just as your body requires a work out so also your brain needs a workout to help it to grow and develop. The more you use your brain the better it will process and remember information. This can be done by exercising the brain. To exercise the brain doing activities that require the use of your hand such as playing a musical instrument, playing table tennis or needle work or pottery making are activities that challenge eye hand co – ordination. Activities that involve the three I’s namely It’s new, It’s challenging and It’s fun are the best way to start.
It’s New: the tasks that you do shouldn’t be things that you are already good at. Such tasks aren’t good brain activities. These activities are required to be unfamiliar and that take you outside your comfort zone.
It’s Challenging: anything that requires mental effort and expands you knowledge are the activities that should be done. Such as playing a musical instrument, learning a new language, sports or solving cross words or Sudoku puzzles will do.
It’s Fun: if the task you are engaged in is enjoyable and fun chances are that you will do them more often and benefit from them. Having fun refreshes the mind as well.
Tip 3: Use memorizing techniques such as Mnemonics
These are simple techniques that make memorizing easier. Mnemonics (the M is silent) are clues that help individuals to associate the information they want to remember via images, sentences and words. These have proved to be effective in remembering things.
Visual images – to remember related information you can simply picture it. E.g. if you want to remember the name Rosa parks and what she is known for. You simply need to picture a woman sitting on a park bench surrounded by roses, waiting for her bus to pull up. If you need to remember the names of the planets you can visualize the solar system to remember the names of the planets.
Acrostic (or sentence) – you can make up a sentence where the initials of what you want to remember are either a part of or represent what you want to remember. E.g. to remember the notes on a guitar such as E,B,G,D,A,E, you can make a sentence with the first letters i.e. Every Boy Gets Dull After Eating.
Acronym – an acronym is a word that is made by taking the first letters of all the ideas or key words that you want to remember and creating a new word. E.g. if you want to remember the colours of the rainbow namely Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Red, Orange and Yellow you can simply make the word VIBGROY.
Rhymes and alliteration – are repetitive sounds or syllables, even jokes are a fun way to remember mundane facts and figures. For instance, a rhyme mnemonic is commonly used to remember the number of days in each month.
30 days hath September, April, June and November.
All the rest have 31.
Except February my dear son.
It has 28 and that is fine. But in Leap year it has 29.
Chunking – it is simply breaking long lists of numbers or other types of information in to more manageable chunks. E.g. If you want to remember a 10 digit number such as 4426892975 if you break it to 442-689-2975, it becomes easier to remember rather than 4426892975.
Method of loci – here you need to imagine the list of items that you want to remember by placing the items along a route that is familiar to you, such as a specific location in a room or building. For instance, if you have to remember a list of Grocery items that have to be bought you can imagine bananas on the road, a puddle of milk at the entryway to your home, tomatoes on the floor in the hall and eggs on the stairs.
Tip: 4 Paying Attention
Apart from these there are other aspects that affect learning and memory namely paying attention to what you are learning is very important. Because much of what is remembered is based on the attention given to the topic while learning. If there are a lot of distractions, the matter will not be learnt well.
Tip: 5 Use as many senses as possible
A lot of studies have shown that individuals who have used many senses have learnt the matter well. When studying relate the information to colours, textures, smells, and tastes. Even the motion of rewriting the information can imprint the matter on to the brain. Reading aloud also helps learning even if you are a visual learner. This is probably why teachers insist on reading tables a loud in class.
Tip: 6 Relate the information you already know
Relating matter to information that you already know enhances learning. If you have to remember someone’s address, if the address is similar to the address of someone you know in that area it becomes easier to locate the place.
Tip: 7 Understand the basic idea
For remembering complex material, one should focus on understanding the basic idea in the paragraph that has been read instead of memorizing all the points in that section. Explaining what you have understood from the paragraph to a friend, teacher or parent assures you of what you have understood and also invites correction if the understanding is incorrect. By doing this not only does your friend learn but you too learn. By narrating this information it also acts as a revision. When learning use diagrams or flow charts where applicable with the main keywords to get clarity of thought about the points covered in the paragraph.
Tip: 8 Review the matter learnt
Reviewing material that has been learnt the very same day when it was taught is important as it acts as a repetition and assures you of what you have learnt and highlights the doubts that you may have overlooked when the matter was taught. Thus ensures that you have understood the topic and will remember it. If one follows these simple Tips chances are that the matter is learnt well and will be remembered thereafter.