Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. – Thomas Edison
1. Pay Attention: Attention plays a very important part in memory. The amount of attention paid to the information being memorised plays a crucial role in consolidating the information from the short-term memory to long-term memory. To increase one’s attention, one has to be free from distractions and take one task at a time. Make a distraction-free clean space to study and also try to keep your mental space clean and free from distractive thoughts. Another important psychological concept to mention here is the ‘Serial Position Effect’. According to this, we are more likely to remember the first and the last information that we read and the middle part is more likely to be forgotten. Having said this, pay extra attention to difficult concepts throughout the chapter and not just the beginning and end.
2. Scan and structure the information: When you start a new chapter or concept, scan through it. It means simply going through the chapter to know what information it presents and in what order. Make notes or flowcharts, if you’d like to. This will help you to understand the structure of the chapter and also aid your memory as our memory likes structured rather than random information.
3. No cramming: Cramming doesn’t help. It is in fact a useless and redundant form of learning and can lead to anxiety or depression just before the exam. Hence, do not cram. Sit and go through the chapter as mentioned in point 2, understand its concepts and elaborate them in your mind. Do not simply cram as you are very likely to forget it and be in a bad situation. On the other hand, going through the information, understanding it and elaborating it in your mind and then revising again will be more fruitful when you are writing that exam. Though, no harm remembering the key words but remembering not cramming.
4. Use Mnemonics: While understanding concepts you can use Mnemonics to help you recall the information. Mnemonics are a group of words, letters, sentence or ideas that help you in recalling the information easily. For example, the mnemonic for remembering the planets of the solar system is ‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles’. Again the focus here is on remembering or aiding recall and not simply cramming.
5. Add meaning to the information: When you read something unfamiliar or new, try to visualise it and associate it with things that you already know. Ask yourself how does this information associates to what I already know. By doing this, you are trying to establish an association between what you already know and the new information. This will help you in understanding the information/concept better and in recalling it when you are writing your exam.
6. Take small breaks: Taking small breaks is very essential for your brain to consolidate the information that you just studied. Long uninterrupted hours of studying causes information overload and as a result lesser information is retained in the memory. Hence, study with continuous breaks, say 15 minutes break after 45 minutes of studies. However, taking a break has to be disciplined and doesn’t mean distractions or totally giving up studying after the break.
7. Sleep well: One of the important roles of sleep is memory consolidation. That means sleep consolidates the information for us in our memory. This helps us to recall the information later. Hence, it is very essential to take a good nap before your exam. Most students don’t pay much attention to this part, but if you are serious about your health and your exam, then take a proper nap the night before the exam. Do not sleep deprive yourself for you surely want to write the exam with a fresh consolidated mind the next day instead of a cluttered head.
Need more guidance or help, talk to a Counsellor.