Top Memory Techniques for Exam Preparation
- Aug 06, 2015
Rohanpreet seemed perplexed as he scratched his head in utter dismay, seated in the examination hall. The 13-year-old boy was incapable of recalling the details about the Battle of Panipat. And he had been ransacking his brain for an answer for the past 10 minutes! Although Rohanpreet was generally admired by his teachers for his decent grades, he feared that he might end up with miserable marks in his History exam this year. For his brain was unwilling to cooperate with him during the exam and played pranks on him.
I bet this looks familiar to you too. You must have also experienced this kind of weird desperation while taking an exam.
But why does this happen?
Because the greatest fear of any student is examination.
You might be an outstanding student, yet you are uncertain of whether you would be able to remember a particular definition or a formula during your exam. I agree that there are times when the mind turns completely blank, as if somebody has erased every kind of information from your memory. And this often happens during the exams, when you are under immense pressure.
However, have you ever wondered what triggers such an acute memory loss right in the midst of a crucial exam?
Well, it is simply because when you are in a hurry to complete your paper, the ‘stress element’ grips you and your body starts releasing the stress hormone, ‘cortisol’ in large amounts. And stress is one of the most common reasons for a sharp decline in your memory power during certain moments.
Being familiar with some of the top memory techniques for exam preparation might turn out to be a savior for you.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most common memory techniques that might come in handy for you before the exams.
#1. Get Organized
First and foremost, get yourself organized.
When you are anxious preparing for an exam, things that can save your day are:
- Proper planning
- A well-organized approach
Therefore, before you get started, de-clutter your study space at home and remove all the unnecessary materials from your desk. Keep a few pens, pencils, sharpener, eraser and a highlighter on top of your study table, even before you sit down to study.
Make sure that your table contains the essential notes, textbooks, and reference books that can guide you for a particular exam. You would notice that a neat and clean room and a clear study space helps you relax as you revise.
#2. Build a ‘Memory Palace’
Students are compelled to inject gigantic volumes of data into their brains and reproduce each and every element of that information on their exam day.
Let me share a secret with you. I’m sure it can really enable you to memorize significant facts and details during your exam.
Well, it is the ‘memory palace’!
All you need to do is imagine that you are building a palace with the aid of all the information you have accumulated inside your brain while learning your lessons.
This is how it works:
- First, visualize a house, or rather, a building. Now add certain images to that building. For instance, you can pretend that the rooms of that building are filled with certain chunks of the information that you have learnt.
- Make visual connections of the chairs, tables and cupboards in the rooms with portions of the lessons that you have just revised. While memorizing the information, try to link them with the furniture in each room.
- As you start writing down your answer, retrace your footsteps through that building simply through the power of your imagination. Visualize the rooms and the furniture present in them in exactly the same manner in which you had learnt your lessons.
- When you wish to add new information to your memory, just add additional rooms to the imaginary building. And associate the information with the things that you would like to visualize in your new rooms.
It is believed to be a smart memory trick and has been utilized since the era of the ancient Greek and Roman rulers as a tool to remember their speeches.
#3. Use Mnemonics
Did you ever try employing the concept of mnemonics to commit to memory each and every lesson that you have been studying?
It is really simple. Mnemonics is the other word for the techniques that help you remember information.
Using mnemonics implies translating your information into a secret code language that helps you decipher the meaning of whatever you are learning. Therefore, it assists you in recalling a great deal of information that might not have been possible otherwise.
Take a certain part of our information that you are eager to remember and use them to develop a creative phrase. However, the phrase must be created in such a way that it activates your memory.
#4. Take advantage of your photographic memory
You can be lucky enough if you happen to possess a strong ‘photographic memory’.
Photographic memory refers to the ability of certain individuals to recall images and objects vividly, as if they are always present in front of their eyes.
Do you possess such a memory? Then retrieving the data preserved in your memory wouldn’t really be an uphill task. Even if you lack a photographic memory, you can develop one. Just arrange your notes in the form of a graph or a picture.
Here is a quick tip for you.
- Make a spider diagram.
- Mention the central idea in the middle.
- Show arrows pointing out to various pieces of information related to the concept.
Creating such a diagram helps you recollect every detail of the concept you have learnt, as you visualize the pictorial representation.
#5. Add Some Music to Your Facts
I have already mentioned about the benefit of using mnemonics as a memory tool while preparing for exams.
Why not make attempts to add some music to your facts and figures? It would work wonders for your memory in a similar way as mnemonics, particularly for auditory learners.
Have you realized how swiftly you can call to mind the lyrics of your favorite songs?
You can implement the same principle in academics as well. Next time you learn the details of a particular monarch or his empire, set the facts to a tune and make it into a song. You would be amazed to observe how easily you can remember your lessons!
#6. Learn Things Practically
Hands-on experience has always been the best teacher, no matter what you are learning.
Studying by rote is not always a wise idea, in my opinion.
How would you understand your lessons if you are not exposed to it in the true sense of the term?
In other words, you should use a more practical approach while learning about concepts, rather than solely depending on books and your notes. For instance, if you are studying about Mughal paintings, I would suggest you visit the Indian Museum to gain a closer look at the creative masterpieces. Viewing the paintings from a closer perspective would add to the interest element and motivate you to concentrate on your lessons with greater zeal.
The internet can also come in extremely handy when you are following such a process for studying.
#7. Make up Your Own Story
Keeping track of certain information belonging to some subjects might prove to be quite challenging. However, there is hope as long as you can come up with innovative ways for retaining it in your brains.
For example, you can sort out the data into smaller chunks and make up your own story, connecting each of these ideas. Remember the concept of the memory palace that I had mentioned? This technique bears a slight resemblance to that.
Having said that, making up a story would be easier, compared to visualizing a building and linking up pieces of facts along with it. This is exactly the reason why some educators use storytelling as a teaching tool in their classrooms.
#8. Grab Adequate Sleep
So, you have left no stone unturned in empowering your memory, haven’t you?
But what about quality sleep?
I have come across several students who tend to underestimate the potential of a good night’s sleep as an essential ingredient for exam preparation. That certainly does not imply that your body requires at least seven to eight hours of sleep just the night before your exams. Instead, you must make it a point to grab adequate sleep regularly and make it a habit.
I will tell you why.
When you are asleep, your brain converts every data to long-term memory from your short-term memory. Whatever you have learnt is preserved in your brain and is processed gradually, as you are taking a rest. So, you feel fresher after a good night’s slumber and can also recall your lessons faster.
#9. Follow a Healthy Diet
Invest in a balanced and healthy diet that is powerful enough to make your brain more productive. Minimize your consumption of junk food and instead focus on a diet rich in proteins, calcium, vitamins, and minerals.
Medical practitioners often advise students to include fish in their diet since it is known to be extremely nutritious for the brain. In fact, fish is a rich source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid that improves the functioning of your brain to a great extent. Therefore, consuming fishes would be immensely beneficial, making you more alert and active.
Similarly, you should also try out a few other food items that help to enhance your memory.
All work and no play would make you dull! So squeeze out some time from your hectic academic schedule and go for a brisk walk or jogging.
Being physically active plays an important role in improving your cognitive performance. Following a study session spanning two and a half hours, you might consider going for a basketball practice with your friends. Investing quality time in physical activity is indeed rewarding for your body, mind, and, soul. This is one of the main reasons why students must practice Yoga immediately after learning new lessons or revising chapters.
Follow this tip and observe how promptly you can recollect your lessons during an exam.
#11. Read through Important Facts More than Once
While it is a good idea to keep the flame of curiosity alight, being eager to learn about new ideas the night before an exam might not help you much.
During the last 24 hours, always emphasize on revising and revising facts like formulae, definitions and theories. And when you are studying your notes, highlight the key portions and make sure you focus on them. Once you are certain that you have finished reviving a particular lesson, cover your notes and think about it. Then, summarize the idea you have just revised and write it down on a sheet of paper.
It would test your memory and also identify your problem areas. Keep practicing it until you have finally mastered the topic.
As you already know, meditation is a wonder drug for your brain.
It has been proved to heighten concentration levels and eliminate all kinds of stress, thereby making you calmer. In simpler words, meditation has multiple benefits for students.
Therefore, you should meditate for at least 20 to 30 minutes on a daily basis before appearing for your exams.
I can assure you that you would feel more relaxed and content with your exam preparation once you start practicing meditation. It would help you recall the toughest answers or formulae as you solve your question paper in the exam hall.
#13. Walk before Your Exam
Most students are observed to be glued to their study materials during the last minute prior to their exams. Some of them might be seen discussing a few questions with their classmates regarding the probable topics, formulae, and so on. On the other hand, I have also noticed a large number of students staring into the distance, with pale and anxious faces!
But how many of you care to walk before your exam? For instance, you can take a stroll around your school campus for ten minutes on the day of your exam. Not only does it de-stress you, but it also enhances the activity of your brain as you write your exam.
These are just a handful of some of the most effective memory strategies that would guarantee you outstanding scores in your exams. For, even if you have given your best shot in revising for your exams, it would be completely futile if you fail to answer the questions in your paper. Following a pattern of systematic study techniques and memorization procedures would ensure that you don’t suffer from a partial memory loss during your exam. Hope you come out with flying colors in your forthcoming exams!
Are you aware of any other memory techniques that can help students manage the stress and prepare for the exam well? Share them with us. We are eager to go through them as well.
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