Recalling new material is one of the biggest challenges students have. Every subject requires a different mindset. What’s more, with the constant bombardment and sheer volume of information being thrown at us constantly from a myriad of sources, it’s no wonder why it’s increasingly a struggle to remember it all, let alone figure out what’s important to remember!
Some think that the way to remember is to memorize material by rote. But this is the least efficient way to recall information. Information learned in this manner is as quickly forgotten as it was learned. In fact, you will study twice as hard for half the results, because studying will start from scratch each time.
How then, can we manage information, instead of having it manage us? The five methods below will help you remember and really learn what you don’t want to forget, and also help build on the information you already know!
1. Get interested.
It’s easier to learn something if it interests you. Paying attention, actively participating in class, doing homework diligently, and going above and beyond can add just that extra layer of zing needed to increase interest and the likelihood of remembering.
For example, if World War II is your history topic, watching era movies can further deepen your understanding and knowledge of the issues. Initiating or organizing group discussions with classmates will help them recall important facts and details. A little extra online research can help fan the flames of interest too!
2. Use visuals.
Evidence shows that using a combination of words and visuals is a powerful tool for learning. And that makes sense! Humans remember pictures better than remember words. Notes can be made more memorable with visuals such as pictures, graphs, and charts. Using color can make words come alive and aid in recall.
3. Connect and build on what you know.
When you begin studying a new topic, or when you start reviewing material, spend a few minutes thinking about what you already know about the subject. Ask yourself: What’s the topic about? How does this relate to what I learned last week? What do I want to know about this? When you actively link and connect what is being learned to what is already known, it becomes easier to remember.
Over-learning is the continued study or practice of material even after the material is mastered. When information is over-learned, it becomes imprinted in your mind so it’s less likely to be forgotten. Reviewing your notes on a regular, hopefully daily, basis is a surefire way to make sure you don’t forget what you need to remember, making studying for tests and exams a breeze.
If you’re an active learner, you will retain information better. After a textbook chapter is read, or a new topic is introduced in class, get into the habit of writing a short summary of what you have just learned. You don’t have to write an essay; just a few sentences summarizing the important points will help you process and remember the information. Getting into the habit of summarizing each day will pay off as you find it easier to remember and understand what you’ve learned.
There are many methods that can be used to remember material better and longer. Using one or all of the strategies described here will make it easier to build on what you know.
The first key to remembering is to be interested in the material. This can be achieved by going above and beyond in assignments, classroom participation, and by supplementing with additional and related material; that extra effort and information will deepen your interest.
Second, using visuals in your note-taking will greatly enhance recall. Third, be deliberate in your effort to connect, relate and build on the information you already know.
Finally, over-learn the information so that you don’t have to struggle when trying to remember it. Using these tried-and-true techniques will make student life easier and less stressful. Best of all, the results you want will be much more achievable.
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