As college students, cramming and then dumping information is quite common, but definitely not the best option for our learning. Here are a few ways to improve your memory and help you to retain information in all of your courses.
Repetition and rehearsal
The first and most obvious way to cement new material is through repetition. If you repeat material enough, you will learn it beyond mastery to the point where your responses become automatic. Flashcards are a traditional way of learning using repetition. Another strategy to employ is the use of pneumonic devices or rhythm and rhyme to help retain info. When using these methods, practice will make perfect!
Actively organize information
Making a study guide can not only help outline everything you need to learn, but it also forces you to group information. Remembering information in chunks is much more manageable. For example, it is easier to memorize a phone number with the dashes in it. “7576748906” is much more difficult to memorize than “757-674-8906.” Another way to group, so to speak, is by associating new information with something you already know. Don’t be afraid to look back over old material. Understanding how one topic builds off of a previous one will make it much easier to memorize.
Get emotions involved
Before you study something, look it over and see what interests you about it. Find a way to relate what you have to study with something you are passionate about. If your personal emotions and experiences are connected to subject, you are much more likely to remember it. For example, think of the real-world applications of the math you are trying to master, or how the historical events you need to learn shaped the world today.
Some ideas in this article were inspired by the second edition of How to be a Successful Student by Donald Martin.