Studying is not the same as memorizing. It’s a reality that many students face, but not all understand until it’s possibly too late. That often happens when they go through the semester attending classes, taking tests, and believing at the final exam that they have never heard of certain terms. It leaves them with the well-known blank stare at the paper and that feeling of hopelessness as you wrack your memory to remember.
Studying implies taking information that has been given to you and applying that information to certain areas. Memorizing, on the other hand, is the process of remembering specific information. It’s considered painful and difficult for most. However, it’s truly not. There is no such thing as being unable to memorize lists and words. If your brain functions properly, you have that capability. What you lack, however, is the right technique.
Our minds are wonderfully complex. It takes a certain amount of stimulation to truly make us focus on one thing at a time, especially when it poses next to no interest. The good news is that once you understand how to engage it even in the most challenging of times, it will stay forever. In fact, mastering the art of memorization will be of excellent help later in life.
Use The Partnership Between Your Eyes and Your Mind
Visuals can be powerful. Learning to use them for your memory is a true skill that will be incredibly useful throughout your life. Memorizing gets easier when you attribute more than just one element to the information. And there’s nothing more impacting to your mind than an image or a color. Use them to your best abilities, and try to “persuade” your mind into remembering them.
Colors are excellent for this purpose. Colorize different sections, names, or dates, to get the best results. However, don’t go too far. You want your notes to look like an organized chart, not a rainbow. Resort to the primary colors in order to not overwhelm your mind. This is a particularly good trick used in the business world, where you have a lot of ever-changing information shifting quickly. A colorful representation of data is extremely beneficial.
Another secret would be to “snap a picture” of the words. Not with your phone, but with your mind. Instead of only learning the words, learn their aspect and their place in the text. When you’re faced with a test that challenges your knowledge, your mind will make the association easier by finding your path back to it. In fact, with enough practice, you will end up memorizing its place on the page before you remember the information.
Let Your Voice Be Your Guide to Boost Your Memory Skills
It may sound narcissistic, but you listen to your own voice better than you do others. Speaking the words out loud can be a great way of helping your mind remember the words. This includes both while reading and after you believe you have everything memorized. It will be of excellent help in discovering your gaps. More importantly, it will involve more functions of your brain as it will equally involve auditory processes. The more it’s involved, the more focused you will be.
A good way to do it is also to record yourself. It can make great use of your time if you play it in the morning while you’re getting ready or even while you shower. Surely, you can sacrifice music for those few couple of minutes for the sake of your grades. Accessing your auditory senses can be done in the car as well, letting the recording go on as you drive. Even if your attention is mostly on the road, the background noise will still etch in your mind and memory.
Your Hand Remembers the Words
Read your material, and then you can start writing it down in a notebook. Your hand will help your mind remember those words if they had passed through it at least once. Many students underestimate the power of this technique or don’t know about it altogether. However, it can be incredibly powerful in every situation, except perhaps those where you need to cram in half an hour. It can be a little more time-consuming, but well worth it.
To make the most out of this, transcribe the words as you read them. You don’t even have to learn them yet, just write them down and let your mind get used to it. After, you can begin working from memory. Put pen to paper and continue jotting down everything you can remember, quizzing yourself, and assessing your answers. Once you’re at an exam, you will see that both your hand and your memory will work together.
Your Muscles Offer Reference
There are certain popular tricks to memorize words, lists, and information. For example, chewing gum of a particular flavor while studying, and then once again at the exam will help your brain trigger the right memory. The so-called study snacks have their own role to play. However, it’s more than that. Muscle memory implies more than reflexes, but a true connection between body and mind that can improve your ability to remember certain things. It’s not something meant to be used just by professional athletes.
Moving around while you are reading and speaking the words out will add more engagement to the process. It doesn’t have to be distracting. However, certain motions would help, even if it’s just gesturing. Mimic the words as you read or speak them to create a physical correlation to what you’re studying. Something as simple as pacing back and forth can be incredibly helpful as well. It will keep you engaged, body and mind, and thus, improve the memorizing process.
Your Spare Time Could Be Used Productively
No one wants their free time to be used for studying, but there are subtle ways where you can make use of downtime to improve your memory. Using flashcards, for example, is a great way of reviewing what you have studied and test yourself. It’s useful during exams to have them at hand, and cram as much as you can even as you are waiting for the bus or driving to school. When stopping at a red light, bring out a flashcard, read the question, read the answer, and then set it down. At the next stoplight, do the same, but switch the card.
Your mind will be able to not only memorize the question and its answer but the circumstances as well. Whether it’s a song on the radio, a background noise, the color of the car next to you, or hundreds of other references available, it will be forced to recall more. However, only glance at your flashcards when waiting at a red light. It’s unsafe to do so in the middle of driving. Your eyes should be on the road at all times and not focused on reading while in traffic.
Your Logic Will Help You Interpret the Words
Repetition is key. Practice makes perfect. But interpretation and finding meaning in the words is even better. It might take a bit more effort, but understanding the information will help you memorize it better and faster. Simply put, you don’t learn anything by reading. You possibly read thousands of words each day in books or media, but that does not mean you memorize them. You can do it over and over again, and it might still not happen.
Did you notice how often you’re in the mood to do some cleaning around your room when you’re supposed to be studying? Or perhaps organize your closet or catch up on emails? That’s because when you are not committed, your brain is looking for any excuse to get distracted. By giving meaning to the words, closing yourself away from distractions, and understanding the information, you will memorize everything better.
The truest secrets of memorization involve engaging your mind to its best abilities. These will help you pass your exams and succeed later in life, simply because these are skills that will always come in handy. Your brain is incredibly complex and capable of greatness. You have the ability to unlock it. All you need to know is how to apply the right techniques.