5 tips on how to memorize better
College is quite unlike school in a sense that it doesn’t employ the route learning approach, preferring instead to cultivate the ability to analyse a topic or issue from all angles and think critically to come up with novel ideas and solutions. However, as with all subjects, there will be certain facts, formulas or methods that you will be required to memorise, and it helps to know effective ways to memorise well. Here are a few methods that can help:
1. Employ your visual memory
According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of individuals are visual learners, a figure which further emphasises the fact that humans are visual creatures. This probably explains the popularity of infographics as learning, training and marketing tools. To illustrate, if you’re trying to memorise a name like Celest, you could visualise a celestial being, which ties back to the person. It’s a fun and easy way to recall information!
2. Note it down
Just as you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down, you are also more likely to remember something you are trying to memorise if you put it down on paper. Writing something down forces you to recall the information you’re trying to assimilate, and seeing it on paper further reinforces the memory of it. That’s probably why your teacher had you writing on the blackboard “I will remember to finish my homework” 50 times when you forgot to hand in your assignment back in school!
3. Assign meaning to information
If something has no meaning to you, you’d probably not be too bothered about it. The same goes for information that you’re trying to process and assimilate. Try to assign something that’s important or familiar to you – your favourite TV show or a profound life experience – to the knowledge that you’re trying to retain. New information is easier to retain when you relate it to information you already know, and retention rates are higher when you assign meaning to the information. In short, making logical connections to new information makes it easier to memorise.
4. Use memory devices
There are a few well-known methods that can help you with memorisation, among them:
- Mnemonics, e.g. “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” helps you recall the colours of the rainbow.
- Chunking: Break up the information into smaller chunks, e.g. it’s easier to remember 158045 as “158” and “045” than as six individual digits.
- Method of Loci: Also known as the mind palace technique, it involves associating particular objects with a location you’re familiar with, e.g. If a bottle of shaving cream is on your grocery list, imagine waking up with the bottle next to you in the bedroom.
- Flashcards: Put the information down on cards, review them and read the information out loud. You could also use a question and answer format, with questions on one side and the answers on the other.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep actually helps to strengthen connections between brain cells, transferring information from one brain region to another, thus strengthening memories. It’s important to consolidate memories, allowing them to be easily recalled in the future. On the contrary, poor sleep patterns and a lack of sleep impedes your ability to focus and as such, lowers information retention rates. Now that you know this, it’s probably not a good idea to burn the midnight oil cramming for an exam that’s happening the next day!