HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Tips for enhancing memory and learning skills
- Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t
- learn something—that is, encode
- it into your brain—if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds
- of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory. If you’re easily distracted, pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better.
- Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.
- For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words.
- Rehearse information you’ve already learned. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming, especially for retaining what you’ve learned.
5 Simple Tricks to Sharpen Thinking and Memory Skills
Using these memory-enhancing techniques can help improve your ability to learn new information and retain it over time.
One of the golden rules of learning and memory is repeat, repeat, repeat. The brain also responds to novelty so repeating something in a different way or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories. Examples of using repletion include:
- Taking notes.
- Repeating a name after you hear it for the first time.
- Repeating or paraphrasing what someone says to you.
A day planner or smart phone calendar can help you keep track of appointments and activities and can also serve as a journal in which you write anything that you would like to remember. Writing down and organizing information reinforces learning.
- Try jotting down conversations, thoughts, experiences.
- Review current and previous day’s entries at breakfast and dinner.
- If you use a planner and not a smart phone, keep it in the same spot at home and take it with you whenever you leave.
Learning faces and names is a particularly hard task for most people. In addition to repeating a person’s name, you can also associate the name with an image. Visualization strengthens the association you are making between the face and the name. For example:
- Link the name Sandy with the image of a beach, and imagine Sandy on the beach.
When you are having difficulty recalling a particular word or fact, you can cue yourself by giving related details or “talking around” the word, name, or fact. Other practical ways to cue include:
- Using alarms or a kitchen timer to remind you of tasks or appointments.
- Placing an object associated with the task you must do in a prominent place at home. For example, if you want to order tickets to a play, leave a newspaper ad for the play near your telephone or computer.
When you’re trying to remember a long list of items, it can help to group the items in sets of three to five, just as you would to remember a phone number. This strategy capitalizes on organization and building associations, and helps to extend the capacity of our short-term memory by chunking information together instead of trying to remember each piece of information independently. For example:
- If you have a list of 15 things on your grocery list, you can group the items by category, such as dairy, produce, canned goods, and frozen foods.