Some say that studying is no longer about memorizing but about critical thinking and knowing where to find credible information. But really, all the three matter. Memorization is central to education and necessary for basically any academic task, from paper writing to preparing for an exam and everything in-between.
Sadly, not all of us are gifted with excellent memory – some may need a little help. Memorization strategies are a great way to learn even large chunks of information and complicated concepts. Here are some of the most effective ones.
#1 Relate New Information to What You Already Know
It is way harder to memorize an isolated fact. The human brain struggles to remember what it does not perceive as meaningful. The easier strategy is to link it to something already well-known.
Say, the new information to learn is that the GDP of the U.S. is $21 trillion. A good strategy is to relate it to an important number, ideally, something personal. For example, your apartment number is 21, or the phone number starts with 21. Think of American GDP in connection to it.
Sure, this is tricky for processes or facts that are impossible to link to one’s personal life (like the Battle of Gettysburg), but luckily, there are other great memorization strategies out there.
#2 Build a Memory Palace
Remember Sherlock Holmes’s famous memory palace? Create something similar. Imagine a well-familiar place, like a dorm room, a mall close by, or a frequented dog park. Imagine walking from one object in it to another while thinking of the different facts that require memorizing.
This may sound like a strange tip, especially when the information to be learned is something like the central nervous system or marketing mix. Still, it is possible (and it works). For example, think of the window as the cerebrum, the rug next to it as a spinal cord, and so on.
Even basic titles can be memorized like this, like the name of a company or a website. When thinking of it, imagine a paper writer on WritePaper – and it will be easy to remember the name of the website once you think of a person sitting at the desk and working on their essay.
Spend a while in the memory palace. When trying to remember the information during the exam, the only thing you will have to do is think about its layout – and the facts learned will start coming back.
#3 Talk to Yourself (Out Loud)
The more senses and channels we use when trying to memorize something, the better the outcome. Many teachers recommend making handwritten notes to remember the new information better. Others suggest recording audio and listening to it on repeat. Both of these are legit, but they take time.
Miraculously, just talking to oneself out loud works too. Sure, it is hard not to feel ridiculous when reciting the theories of management to an empty room, but who cares. What matters is the result – and it is well worth it.
#4 Write It Down
A rare person still uses a pen and paper to write something down nowadays. Most have switched to laptops and note-taking apps. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with this. Typing out new information to make notes and flashcards is a good strategy for memorizing it. It is way more effective when using the pre-made flashcards found online, for sure.
However, typing out the new information cannot compare to handwritten notes. Almost all students have a ‘Write Paper’ and ‘Exam’ post-it on their fridge or mirror from time to time (whenever the deadline is approaching). The next time this happens, try connecting the two. Few memorization tricks work better than the good ol’ pen and paper.
To make this strategy even more effective, read the notes out loud while making them and afterward. This will put both the “Talk to Yourself (Out Loud)” and “Write It Down” strategies to practice.
#5 Use Mnemonics
Mnemonics stands for various study and memorization systems. There is no one way to do it right. Some of the effective mnemonics devices are:
- Acronyms. Take the first letter of all the words that need remembering and learn the acronym. For example, the acronym for the seven key battles of the Civil War would be FFAC VGA or, better even, FiFoACVGA – for First Bull Run, Fort Donelson, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Atlanta. It is much easier to restore the information based on the acronym.
- Music. Remember the “A, B, C, D…” song we all learned as kids to memorize the alphabet? Unleash your inner composer and do the same for important definitions. Then start humming the tune during the exam – and the definition will come back together with the tune.
- Rhyme. Similarly to music, rhyming the information that needs remembering makes it easier to recall it later. Also, what can be cooler than rapping about leadership theories in nursing?
There are many more great mnemonics techniques. Entire books are written about them, such as The Mnemonics Book: 30 Ways in 30 Days to Maximize Your Memory and Moonwalking with Einstein.
#6 Teach Someone Else
There is no better way to memorize something than to talk to someone else about it. We all have heard the old “the best way to learn something is to teach it to another person” formula countless times. Well, this is true. When we try to put complicated concepts into easy terms, we understand them on a deeper level and memorize them once and for all.
Ideally, the person to teach should be someone who does not know anything about the topic. Moreover, the goal should be to make them actually understand the information, not just listen to it. This is not an easy task to achieve, especially for science students. But if the teaching ends up successful, so will the exam.
Memorization techniques make studying not only easier but more fun as well. Make sure to relate new information to something well-known, create a memory palace, talk out loud, use pen and paper to write the new information down, use mnemonics tricks, and teach someone else. The results will not be long in coming.