Human brains are fascinating. It is the most complex organ we have that is essential to our everyday lives. One of the most important functions our brains serve is memory, which plays an important role in our education and academic success. Students get tested on how well they can retain and recall information. Here are seven tips to help improve your memory.
Getting quality sleep may seem impossible for high schoolers, especially for those taking rigorous courses, but it is crucial to improve your memory. One study was conducted by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2005 and a quite similar study was conducted by Katya Trudeau Potkin and William E. Bunney Jr. in 2012.
With this first study, they had two groups of teenagers go into a MRI machine while they recall a series of words and monitor their brain activities. One group got a good night’s sleep while the other group had to stay awake. After 12 hours, they repeated the word recall in the MRI machine and saw more brain activity in the rested group compared to the group who got no sleep.
With this second study, two groups were presented the same words and were asked to recall them 12 hours later. The only difference between the two groups is that one group slept within the 12 hours while the other group did not. The group that received a good night’s sleep scored 20.6% to 32.7% higher than the group who received zero sleep.
With sleep, cerebellum becomes active and the brain's limbic system, the region that controls stress and anxiety, becomes less active. This results in fast and accurate memory without any stress or anxiety, a perfect condition for tests or exams!
You might be familiar with the Ebbinghaus Forgetting curve. It is a graph that shows the decrease of memory retention over time. As it can be seen in this graph, each time you revise it, the less likely you are going to forget.
Therefore, to improve your memory, don’t cram the information before the test; make sure to plan ahead. Additionally, make sure to go over your homework, quiz, or exam and go over the questions you got wrong.
Reading aloud results is called the “production effect,” which is how vocalizing the information leads to better memory. When researchers Michal Icht, Yaniv Mama, and Daniel Algommade had the participants read 50% of the information aloud and the other 50% silently, they remembered words which were read aloud 27% better than those silently.
Both reading and speaking helps you to memorize information.
Pomodoro Method is a technique in which 25 minutes sessions are divided by 5 minutes rests. It helps people to have maximum focus in the session. Because of the 5 minutes breaks, you can refresh your mind and regain your focus.
Like sleeping, taking a rest is as important as actively studying. Without a break, you start to lose focus and get tired, resulting in poor quality studying sessions.
Mnemonics are devices to facilitate the way you retain information. These include: ABC songs, SOH CAH TOA for Sine, Cosine, and Tangent for triangles, PEMDAS for order of operations, FANBOYS for coordinating conjunction, and more.
Songs or jingles use your brain’s right hemisphere and can help us remember tricky things like equations and lists. The reason why this makes remembering easier is that it makes separate information into chunks.
For example, English alphabets are 26 separate informations, but with songs, it becomes multiple chunks like “LMNOP”.
Although in high school, typing notes are probably uncommon, this tip can be applied in college. A study conducted by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer found that taking lecture notes by hand instead of typing them out on a computer helped students better recall the lesson content.
However, this might not be the case for every student since typing notes on a computer is much faster than writing notes traditionally, So what you can do is to write important information after lectures or the parts that you remember rather than writing whole notes by hand which can cause sloppy handwriting and possible cramps in your hand and arm muscles.
Your study tricks and techniques do not have to be one of these! A study has shown that just having your own techniques can improve your performance. Do what works the best for you. Everybody uses different types of memory recall and some have created methods that maybe solely work for them.