tower logo CURRENT STUDENTS | FUTURE STUDENTS | FACULTY/STAFF | A-Z   

IMPROVING YOUR MEMORY

Forgetting is a natural process with the greatest losses occurring within the first 24 hours of learning. It is essential to review readings and lecture notes within one or two days of initial exposure with brief additional reviews interspersed in later weeks.

PAY ATTENTION AND INTEND TO REMEMBER
Which are you more likely to remember, the name of a co-worker or your boss? We remember when we decide to remember, and when we have a reason/motivation.
1. Eliminate distraction while reading/studying.
2. Develop a strong motivation. Think of a reason why you want to learn this.

ANALYZE HOW TO REMEMBER EACH FACT & CONCEPT AS YOU ENCOUNTER IT
1. Decide whether you will emphasize concepts, memory devices, visualization, or reciting.
2. Relate new materials to facts and concepts you already know.

INTERPRET AND UNDERSTAND THE MATERIAL
1. To improve your long-term memory and to perform better on complex test questions, focus on understanding the basic ideas rather than simply memorizing isolated facts.
2. Explain concepts to family members and study partners. This “teaching” will help you deepen your own understanding.

ORGANIZE THE MATERIAL
1. As you listen to a lecture or read, use “advanced organizers” obtained by prior knowledge or scanning to organize the new information. Just as an office worker needs a filing system, you need a mental filing system if you hope to comprehend and retrieve what you have learned.
2. During review, organize your notes by writing questions or headings in the left margin. Create study charts to summarize your notes or text.
3. The human brain appears to be able to hold only seven chunks of information in immediate memory, so breaking up material into categories will help you remember.

VISUALIZE THE MATERIAL
1. Study pictures, diagrams, and charts in your text, and develop your own.
2. Visualize information. For example, to remember the date of Lincoln’s birth, visualize a log cabin with 1809 carved above the door.

RECITE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED
It increases your level of attention. It creates a stronger neural trace of memory by utilizing more senses.
1. Recite as you read, as you review your class notes, and as you study.
2. For material that you need to remember in some detail, reciting should take up 60%-80% of your study time (relative to reading).

REVIEW SOON AND IN SMALL, FREQUENT SESSIONS

While longer study sessions are effective for writing or for creative projects, most study is best done in short sessions with breaks, for example, study for 50 minutes and take a break for 10 minutes.
1. Review your lecture notes immediately (that day or the next).
2. As you walk to your next class, recall the main points of the lecture you just attended.

USE MEMORY DEVICES SUCH AS ASSOCIATIONS AND MNEMONICS
1. Use word mnemonics-- such as HOMES to remember the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
2. Use sentence mnemonics-- such as “Kings play cards on fairly good, soft velvet.” To remember the biological classification system: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, variety. 3. Use mnemonics for spelling and for keeping terminology straight.
     a. A principal is a pal. Cyanates, I ate (harmless chemicals)
     b. A principle is a rule. Cyanide, I died (poisonous chemicals).
4. To improve memory, add humor and an “off color” element to your memory device.

*Adapted from How to Study in College by Walter Pauk. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

©2014 -- REGENTS OF WESTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY
PO BOX 680 SILVER CITY NEW MEXICO | PHONE 1-800-872-9668
HOME   |    ABOUT US  |   ADMINISTRATION   |   CAMPUS DIRECTORY   |   CONSUMER INFORMATON   |   HED DASHBOARD   |   WESTERN INSTITUTE FOR LIFELONG LEARNING   |   CONTACT US