Wouldn't it be great to be able to accurately and consistently recall all the things you've learned during the course of your studies?Words, numbers, facts, lists, names, ideas, essays, skills - having the ability to retain such information would be like a godsend to students, especially coming close to exam time.But while not all of us can have a photographic memory, there are still a number of tips and techniques we can use to improve our powers of recollection.
The human brain is a hugely complex organism that contains some 86 billion neurons - all functioning to control every single thing you do.Information in the brain is stored in a few different ways. Short-term memory helps keep track of the tasks with which the brain is currently engaged. New information replaces the old information in short-term memory within a few seconds or minutes, unless the information is transformed into long-term memory.Long-term memory is stored in the brain by the hippocampus. The hippocampus transfers information from short-term memory to those memory-storage regions of the brain (cerebral cortex of the temporal lobes).
Strategies for memory improvement
Invent your own learning strategy
One of the most effective ways of boosting your memory and recalling what you've learned is to create your own connections and memory chains. Think about what it is that you need to recall from each lesson, then use your imagination to find new ways of presenting that information in Mind Maps, Slides or Flashcards. By engaging your mind in this way, you can create a deeper connection to the material you are studying and thereby improve your focus and recall.
When using Flashcards, your brain absorbs and links together the information found on either side of the card you've created. This active process stimulates memorisation.Active recovery of information not only improves our short-term memory (e.g. when sitting an exam) but also provides us with long-term benefits. Research suggests that the most effective way to internalise and retain knowledge over the long-term is to combine the active recovery of information with space repetition.Ideally, Flashcards should be reviewed in periodically - daily, weekly and monthly. This way, you will end up automatically absorbing all the necessary knowledge and strengthening your active memory.
One way you can help get your brain to process complex information is by simplifying it using mind maps. The trick here is to focus on the key concepts of a given lesson. Try not to make it needlessly complicated. Forcing yourself to choose between what's necessary and what isn't will also help you stay focused.Once you've selected the most valuable information, begin plotting items visually and grouping them together. This helps build mental associations and allows the brain to absorb chunks of information rather than independent details.
Trying to recreate the conditions of an exam scenario can help you acclimatize to an exam-type environment in which there is pressure to provide answers over a limited amount of time.The more practice you get doing this in your own time, the more relaxed you'll be when you enter an exam, meaning that your brain will be more effective when attempting to recall important information.
Never overlook the importance of the mind-body connection: Research suggests that doing some moderate exercise for just 30 minutes each day can help boost the brain's capacity for processing information quickly.And if the combination of exercise and study wears you out, then make sure you get yourself off to bed for a good night's rest. Studies show that consistently getting between 7 and 9 hours' sleep each night benefits cognitive skills including learning, concentration and memory. So avoid pulling any of those counter-productive all-nighters - get sleep and stay sharp!