The Memory Hacks To Master For Study Success

A lot of exam questions rely on our ability to remember and recall key bits of information. Whether it’s the date of an important historic battle, or the names of the specific cells involved in a biological process, there’s a lot we have to commit to memory.

But fear not! If attempting to make it all stick in your brain is making your head hurt, there are some simple techniques you can use to make it a whole lot easier.

Read on to discover the memory hacks that will help you ace your exams (and impress your friends with all that knowledge!)

Make up a mnemonic

Don’t be fooled by this hack’s complex name. It’s actually a really simple tool that makes learning lists easy! Whether you’re memorising the order of the planets in our solar system or learning the Reactivity Series of Metals, assigning the list a mnemonic will make it unforgettable.

Here’s how it works: take the first letter of each item on the list and assign it a word which begins with the same letter. As you move down the list, each new word should follow on from the last to form an easy-to-remember sentence or phrase.

If we were to apply this to the planets, for example, we might use:

MVery Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming (Planets)

When you need to recall the planets, you can simply say this phrase to yourself and use the beginning letter of each word to signify the order in which the planets lie:

e.g. Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune (Pluto)

Sing-along studying 

Ever wondered why you can’t remember the topic from last week’s Physics lesson, but you can sing year-old Tik Tok songs word-perfect? There are a number of reasons song lyrics are so much easier to remember than school work. These include: repetition, melody and emotion.

Repetition is key to committing facts to memory, so it’s no surprise a song we’ve heard playing on repeat is so easy to remember. A distinctive rhythm and melody also helps you to recall the words of the song. On top of this, hearing a song normally triggers a particular emotion – perhaps it reminds you of a memory, person or place? This association of something specific with the song creates a link which our brain naturally remembers every time we hear the song again.

So, how can we make this work for revision? If you’re learning a specific phrase, passage or perhaps even a whole page of facts, try setting them to a particular tune. It might be the tune from your favourite song, or perhaps one you’ve made up yourself. By singing the information regularly to this tune, your brain will begin to make a connection between the melody and words. Then, when it’s time to recall the information, you can sing the tune to yourself to help you remember.

Top tip: be careful not to sing it out loud during an exam!

Build a memory palace

Now this one requires a lot less work than it sounds! You won’t need any bricks or cement – your memory palace will be built in your mind. To start, imagine a place in your head. It’s best if this is somewhere you know well – like your house, or your local supermarket. Imagine moving through that place (remember the route you take, you’ll need to repeat it exactly later!)

As you move around the place, pick out recognisable objects – the bathroom mirror, for example, or a painting on the wall – and assign a specific fact or piece of information to that object. By connecting each fact with an object, you’re helping your mind make links which will make it easier to remember later on.

Don’t forget to repeat this one! By regularly visiting your memory palace and reminding yourself of each fact as you come across your chosen objects, you’ll begin to commit them to memory. Then, when it comes to an exam, you’ll be able to easily locate the information you need by finding it in your memory palace.

Active Recall

If you’ve read the textbook front to back, three times, and you’re still struggling to remember the information – it’s time to try a different approach.

Active Recall is a tried and tested method for learning and retaining information. It centres around the act of prompting your brain to retrieve the facts – just as you would in an exam.

If you’ve got some flashcards on hand, you can use these to help you. On one side of each flashcard write the fact you need to remember and on the other side write a corresponding question or prompt. Test yourself by looking at each prompt and trying to remember the answer without looking at the other side of the card! Alternatively, ask a friend or parent to test you by asking you questions or giving you prompts.

Don’t give up if you don’t get them all right! By repeating the exercise you’ll begin to remember more and more, and identify the areas you need to spend a little longer on.

Get teaching

That’s right, it’s time for the student to become the master… Much like active recall, teaching someone else a topic forces your brain to retrieve the most important information. Being able to confidently explain something to someone else also proves that you fully understand it. 

So, why not get a group of friends together and take it in turns to teach a topic? If there are bits you forget, don’t worry! You can help each other out by filling in any gaps.

Ready to put these memory hacks to the test? Let us know which ones you try by dropping us a DM @SaveMyExams on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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