Maximizing Memory

Memory is key to successful performance in an academic setting. By being able to master how to remember more effectively, you can better master your classes, especially your tests! During this module, you will gain strategies for memory and concentration improvement.

Memory Process

First, let's talk briefly about how your memory work. There are 3 types of memory: sensory, short-term and long-term. Each of these play a part in how you remember things.

Sensory memory

The sensory memories act as buffers for stimuli received through the senses. A sensory memory exists for visual stimuli, aural (sound) stimuli and touch. Information is passed from sensory memory into short-term memory by attention. If you're not paying attention, the memory is quickly forgotten.

Short-term memory

Short-term memory acts as temporary recall of information. Short-term memory is forgotten quickly and has a limited capacity.

Long-term memory

Long-term memory is intended for storage of information over a long time. Information from short-term memory is transferred to it after a few seconds. Unlike short-term memory, there is little decay.

Keys to Memory

  1. The first step and most important step in remembering is intending to remember.

    We often learn according to how much interest, incentive, and intention we have. We remember those things that we are motivated to remember, whether we are naturally interested or have created an interest and enthusiasm in learning the subject matter.

  2. Selectively Choose Information. You cannot remember everything you see and hear. Selecting the important information and disregarding the unessential information maximizes memory. Therefore, when studying, first skim the chapter outline to identify key concepts to be remembered.

  3. Understand the Material. 

    A poorly understood concept is difficult to remember because it has little meaning. For long-term recall, it is necessary to understand what you are trying to remember.

    How can you be sure to understand the material? Clear any misunderstood concepts up with your teacher, a classmate or a tutor!

  4. Review, review, review. Immediate review (after class lectures or textbook reading), even if for a few minutes, reinforces learning and remembering of material. The greatest amount of forgetting occurs directly after finishing the learning task. Try reviewing notes immediately before and after class period to enhance recall.

  5. Sight and hearing are the most important senses in acquiring information. To find out which sense works best for you, Know Your Learning Style.

  6. Associate new material with prior learning. 

    Learn new material by associating the new idea with something you already know about and are interested in. As new learning occurs with your later courses, this material will provide additional background with which to associate future learning. An important fact to remember is that the more you learn, the easier it is to learn more because you have a broader base for anchoring new information.

  7. As a general rule, short study periods mixed with rest intervals are better for memory than cram sessions.

  8. Large masses of material are less threatening and more easily committed to memory when broken into smaller sections or categories. Envision each fact or idea as a part of that category or section, and then relate the sections to each other. 

    It is also helpful when remembering a list of items to give extra attention and practice to those items in the middle of the list. Those items at the first and last of a list are recalled with greater accuracy than those within the list.

  9. In most cases, understanding the material is paramount in learning. However, there are times when it is necessary to remember facts that seemingly defy organization, in which case mnemonic devices can be helpful. (Example: "Thirty days has September"). This might include phrases or combinations or words which could be associated and adapted to material to be remembered, but mnemonic devices should be used only until you know the material so well that you no longer need them.

preload menu background image