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Memory Techniques

Improving your memory will make you a better student. Good memory skills can help you process information quickly and efficiently, and can save you hours of cramming before a test. Developing an effective memory takes practice and the techniques you use need to fit your style of learning. Experiment with the following memory techniques to find the ones that will help you store and recall information more easily.

Learn from the general to specific
Survey the chapter you are about to read by first reading major titles and heading. How is the chapter organized? What are the major areas being emphasized? Next, skim the chapter or the main ideas. By getting a look at the big picture, you'll be able to better understand and retain the details.

Make it meaningful

Try to remember why you are in college and how the information you are learning will help you in your future plans. If you can keep in mind the importance of what you are learning, you will be more motivated to retain the information.

Create associations
Try associating new information with data already stored in your memory. This works well with names. If you meet someone named Jaime, try picturing this person standing next to another person you know named Jaime. When you see the new Jaime, your mind is more likely to associate her with a Jaime you already know.

Learn it once, actively

Standing or walking around while you study can enhance memory and recall by providing needed energy and alleviating boredom. Action is a great memory enhancer.

Relax
When you are relaxed, you absorb new information more quickly and recall it with greater accuracy. Relaxation is a state of alertness, free of tension, during which time your mind can use the techniques for recalling information.

Create pictures. Draw diagrams. Make cartoons.
Use them to connect facts and illustrate relationships. For example, to remember the date of the treaty that declared peace between the American colonies and England, ending the Revolutionary War, you could try the following visualization. Picture the dove (the symbol of peace) carrying a red, white, and blue sign (the symbol of the United States) with the year 1783 on it.

Recite and repeat
This may be the most important technique you can learn. Verbally repeat information you want to retain. If you are reading a chapter, write a summarization of the material. Skim your reading again, and check your summarization for errors. Repetition is very helpful in moving information from short-term memory into long-term memory.

Overlearn

Learn more than you had intended to learn. Don't stop studying when you think you know enough to pass the test. Continue to pick the subject apart while studying. Add to it, examine it, and go over it. This technique is especially effective for problem solving. Create and complete a test you have made. Work similar problems from other books. When you pretest yourself in this way, the potential rewards are speed, accuracy, and greater confidence at the exam time.

Distribute learning

Marathon studying sessions are not effective. It is better to study in two or three small sessions than to study in a long six- hour session. Take breaks between study sessions as rewards. Even while you are taking a break, your mind will be reviewing what you have just studied.

Remember something related

If you can't remember the answer you need, try to remember a related idea or concept. For example, if you can't remember the answer to a test question, try to remember the example the instructor used in class to talk about the concept. Often, this will allow our mind to begin associating until it can recall the information you need.

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