5 simple techniques that will improve your memory and your learning capacity

5 simple techniques that will improve your memory and your learning capacity


The most popular methods of study are not always applied in the most effective way.

No matter how smart you think you are, I’m sure your memory sometimes fails you. A series of surveys showed that the majority of students do not effectively use proven learning methods and, instead, waste time with other ineffective techniques.

One of the problems is that we often receive a lot of contradictory information from parents, teachers and scientists, so we do not know for sure what works and what does not.

Luckily, a new report published in one of the most prestigious psychology journals examined the main confusions and created a list of the most popular study strategies with their possible obstacles and how to take better advantage of them.

Technique 1: reread

Are you learning new vocabulary? The most common strategy is to read the words and their meanings until they are recorded. To our bad luck, psychologists believe that it is too passive , which means that most of the information does not leave a mark.

The trick: read at intervals.

Rereading passively is probably the least effective study technique, but sometimes it is inevitable when you feel you lack the basic understanding of a concept. You can make better use of those sessions, however, by making sure you read at regular intervals . You can read a chapter, continue with something else and reread that same chapter after an hour, a day or a week to help stimulate memory.

When you return to the material after a while, you can also benefit from the questions that came up during that break This helps focus your attention more on the fragments you know and those that no longer increase the interest you put in the subject.

Girl highlighting notes
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Image caption If you highlight too many ideas, you will not be able to detect the ones that are most important.

Technique 2: underline or highlight

As with rereading, this study technique is almost ubiquitous. Its concept makes sense: the process of emphasizing keywords and phrases should help that interests us more information and facilitates the subsequent identification of L as thoughts most important . But although it can be more effective than passive rereading, underlining and highlighting often does not work, as many students emphasize almost every paragraph without discerning much.

Trick pause to think

The scientists suggest reading aloud and pointing out the relevant passages later , in the second review we make of the text. By forcing yourself to think each point and its relative importance more carefully, more active information processing is encouraged, something that is essential for the formation of sharper memories.

Technique 3: take notes

Visit any auditorium or library and you will find students judiciously copying the most important facts in their notebooks. As well as underlining or highlighting, problems arise when one ceases to be judicious about the material that is included in those notes. The excess of enthusiasm and tendency to include everythingthat is mentioned can easily become a vice.

Woman taking notes
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Image caption Taking many notes can create a barrier that prevents you from remembering crucial information.

Trick: be concise

Several experiments have shown that if a student uses fewer words to express an idea, he will be more likely to remember it later. This may be because summarizing and paraphrasing forces you to think deeply about the crux of what you are trying to express and that extra effort is entrenched in your memory. These discoveries can also explain why it is better to take notes with a pen and a paper than to use a laptop : writing by hand requires more time than doing it with a keyboard, which forces you to be more concise at the time of writing.

Technique 4: making schemes

Many teachers encourage their students to see the subject they are studying from a bird’s point of view, presenting the key points in a structured and logical way . Sometimes, the teacher creates these schemes, but can also encourage students to do them themselves.

Trick look for deep patterns

Students who are taught with these schemes tend to achieve better results, according to new studies, since they allow them to identify the underlying connections between different topics . These investigations suggest that it is often more effective to start with a skeletal scheme before going to study and then fill it with details as you progress in the subject.

Much of our learning is done independently, of course, without instructions; but you can make your own conceptual maps of a text. Once again, being concise is essential: you have to focus on the structure of the argument rather than getting lost in the details if you want to see those underlying connections and get the most out of that deep learning.

Class in which some students use laptops
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Image caption Taking notes on a laptop may not be as good as doing it by hand.

Technique 5: chips

Examining yourself is now considered the most reliable learning strategy, particularly for those specific and detailed facts and there is considerable evidence that this method can improve your memory. Even so, there are different ways of doing it that can be more or less effective.

Trick: be careful with being too confident

Most people find it hard to calibrate the limits of their own thinking, believing that their decisions are smarter than they are. The judgments on learning are not very different. In fact, one study concluded that the more confident a person was that he had learned something , the less likely he was to remember it later.

We all underestimate the ease with which we will forget something in the future. Therefore, the use of chips can be counterproductive if you think that once you have remembered something, this will stay in your head forever, something that makes you move to the next card before the data has become entrenched in your memory. On the other hand, it makes more sense to continue evaluating yourself even when you already know the word.

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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