When it comes to memory and remembering what you learn, you wouldn’t be the first to ask yourself if there’s something wrong with you!
If you’re perfectly normal, that is!
That’s to say, forgetting things is perfectly normal. Beating yourself up about it, is optional!
So if it’s normal to forget things, how on earth are you going to set yourself up to learn and retain information so that you pass your exams when they come?
Well, you need a robust and effective learning strategy.
Because that’s all there is between someone who passes their exams and someone who doesn’t.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, to believe that the reason you’re not doing as well in your exams as the next person, is because you’re not up to the job.
But it is a trap, because once you know what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do, passing exams transmogrifies from an assault on your self-esteem and confidence, to an opportunity to demonstrate what you know and what you can do.
So here are the three things you need to make sure that you do, in order to get the information into your head in the first place, and keep it there, in the second.
Remembering what you learn
First Key to Learning
You’ve got to spend enough time with the information in the first place for your brain to make a pattern of it and send it to your long-term memory. Simply reading and rereading your course manual is one example of how to send your brain to sleep! Not ideal, I’m sure you will agree!
Incidentally, there are three other common traps you’ll want to avoid if you want your brain to absorb the information. Let’s face it, you’re not going to remember it later if it never went into your head in the first place!
Second Key to Learning
What to do instead? Well, you need to actively manipulate the information into a form that your brain likes. Notice I say, “your brain” and not “the” Yes, of course we’ve all got a lot in common, especially with regard to how our brains function, but one person’s strategy for success could be very different from another’s. You need to make sure you’re doing the right thing for you.
This is where you might consider using mnemonics. A mnemonic is any device that helps you to remember stuff. Recent research demonstrates that not only has The Method of Loci helped people learn an inordinate amount of information (actually since the days of Ancient Greek Oration, lasting hours and hours), it automatically increases your brain’s capacity to learn and remember right across the board. Useful, eh? Naturally, there are as many different ways of actively manipulating the information you want to learn, as there are people learning. Knowing what works best for you is the key.
Third Key to Learning
Most people don’t realise, that we are hardwired to forget, and therefore discover the hard way that they can spend as much time as they like learning new information, only to find that something they ‘knew’ only this morning has already gone. This is perfectly normal because from an evolutionary perspective, new information is more likely to keep us safe than older information.
So to keep information in your head you have to go back to it regularly. Fortunately, there’s a way to do this that’s quick and easy – and rewarding too. There’s nothing quite like success to motivate!
Once you’ve discovered exactly how you should tailor your revision to make the most of the particular way your brain works, you will become as successful as the other people around you, and like them, you too, will breeze through exams.