If you are on a mini-adventure to find out the best memory techniques to improve memory for studying (so much so your retention will be compared to a dolphin’s), welcome to this guide.
You see, the methods of improving memory retention is not a secret kept by an underworld cult or hidden in the pages of an occult playbook. Do a small search online, and you’d find yourself immersed in the luxury of options on how you can go about improving your memory.
Some of these options come in the form of programs — some physical and some virtual. Others suggest using unseasoned methods like hypnosis.
But don’t stress your brain out. This is not an article that describes one program and another to you.
Today, I will show you simple memory tips you can use when studying and preparing for study. You will notice that some of these tips are already what you know and fail to apply for the best results.
So, I will not only give you the tips but tell you how to use it too. Sounds good?
Unbeaten memory techniques for studying
Before we dive into the tips on memory techniques for studying, how does your brain go about the process of creating memories and letting you recall them?
The complex process can be easily divided into a three-step journey:
- First, your brain takes an event or series of events (like what, where, and when you are reading) and sends it as signals in a particular pattern between your neurons, creating synaptic connections.
- To keep this event in the long term memory, you need to sleep. Sleeping gives the brain room to make connections stronger. This step is called “memory consolidation.”
- The last step in this process recalls the saved memory (which is the focus of this article).
Check out this article on how brain processes information.
The truth is memory recalling gets easy when you build your retention muscles. This happens through repetition: when you run through the same memory pattern, again and again, the synaptic connections created in step one gets strengthened, making recall easier (and impressing yourself too).
Maybe exams are near, or perhaps you are in a study group that challenges you to have better retention if you want to look outstanding. Perhaps it’s a competition you are preparing for, or more interestingly, you’ve set a memory goal for yourself and need these tips to make it materialize.
Whatever the case, I will show you how you can improve memory and study skills using the most tested, health-friendly techniques for students. For these tips to work for you, you must follow them religiously.
Best tip 1: Enjoy your sleep – and keep stress off
Remember how tired you feel when you stay awake longer than you want to, doing a brain-draining task? Think of your brain as you.
The major purpose of the organ is to keep your body condition in top shape, which sometimes means it needs to rest to refresh itself (just like when you need an energy bar).
When you don’t sleep, you are basically telling the brain: “I don’t care whether you are dead or alive! Just do your job!”
Do you see how you’ve been sucking the life out of your brain and expecting it to pull off some magic for your memory retention?
In fact, recall how the brain needs sleep to create better synaptic connections for the events happening in your life. A study even says dreams are possible reflections of this process. One of those events is what you study or read.
Give the brain some sleep and let it do its job, then see how your memory improves over time.
Best tip 2: Water is important for your retention
Did you know your brain is 73% water? Did you also know it takes only 2% dehydration to cut down your short term memory and slice your attention span in bits?
When you take water, you help your brain boost to help you boost concentration. Proper hydration keeps you alert and helps with a sharp focus, and attention.
But that’s not all water that increases blood flow to your brain, which calms the brain and gives you a higher quality sleep (remember tip 1?!)
So, dear friend, please keep your body hydrated. According to an article in The Daily Texan, between 6 – 8 glasses of water per day would do just fine. Drinking one to two cups of water before you begin reading is an excellent way to keep your brain gears lubricated and improve memory retention.
Best tip 3: Keep your body active
Exercise is good, said the trainer. It keeps your mind and body sharp and ready to run, she added.
When you do exercises, it not only gives you a model body. Quality exercises also improve your mind by increasing brain, memory, and concentration power.
It’s never a good idea to skip your exercises as a student. One research by dwellstudent.co.uk says 20 minutes of exercise can improve your study concentration and focus by many folds. Did I forget to mention…it is one of the best ways to improve memory for studying?!
An active body gives you an active mind. Get your joints moving. You don’t necessarily need to sign up for a gym class to get the most out of exercises. Apps like Home Workout, or cardio exercise apps in general will come in handy. (Apple Store or Android Play Store).
Best tip 4: When studying, use acronyms for improved retention
Remember those mathematical problems with brackets and multiple operators?
They usually look like this:
(3 * 7 + 9 /3)
The unknowing person will tick an answer like 10 if it is available in the options.
However, if you did basic math properly and listened when the teacher was talking about PEMDAS in school, you’d know the right answer is 24.
PEMDAS stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. It tells you the correct sequence of handling mathematical problems with multiple arithmetic operators (yay! for acronyms).
See how this saves a lot of time and errors. Using acronyms is a good memory technique for studying.
It doesn’t always have to be an acronym. Mnemonics also help you improve retention like the popular,
St. Vincent Cried “Mommy!” Feeling Cold Next to Cold Zombies.
For remembering the first row transition metals (if you do chemistry).
Best tip 5: Revisions are important
Revisions are important if you want to improve your memory retention for exams. Remember step 3. on how your brain processes events and stores them?
One practice that makes memories stick longer in your brain is revisiting them repeatedly to make sure there are no loose threads.
When preparing for your exams, you should take a similar approach and develop yourself into a practice or revision machine.
Think about anything you know how to do well (like walking). You had to practice and do more practice till you transformed into a perfect walker. The same goes for your books and any reading you intend to do.
Revisiting a particular concept will help it stick more and make it easier to notice when you take a stroll within the halls of that memory, even during heated exam situations.
Develop a good study plan that helps you revise your work. Apply spaced repetition, too (Thomas Frank of CollegeInfoGeek has a good article on spaced repetition if you don’t know what it means).
Best tip 6: Chewing gum will help improve memory for studying
This is an unusual one. However, I remember only promising you will know some of the tips in the article, not all (especially the unusual ones).
This chewing gum tip is backed by a study revealing higher accuracy and reaction for participants who chewed gum in a memory recall test.
A possible reason this trick works is that chewing gum creates increased activity in the memory region of the brain (called the hippocampus).
So, chewing gum while studying means an already activated hippocampus leading to improved memory retention.
However, more people are still proving the chewing gum tip. So far, it has had good results that even DIY blogs recommend it.
You should try this too, if you don’t find it distracting to your study. Anything good for the best grades, right?!
Best tip 7: In the end, what you consume matters
I cannot recall how many times I ate “junk food” and had to call in a sick day (maybe I need to sleep for a while and let my brain do some consolidation).
Anyway, your diet matters. Did you know there are even specific diets that improve your brain’s overall health and improve memory?
Foods like fatty fish, coffee, broccoli, dark chocolates, pumpkin seeds, and blueberries make a good list of items you should try. Most plant-based meals containing leafy veggies and nuts are industry standard if you want to give your brain a good meal furnishing and increase your memory retention.
The general advice is, you should stay away from consumables like sugar, oily (or fried) food, and excess salt.
What would a better memory do for you? Better grades, less wasted time trying to think about what you read the previous night? Or an awesome technique to remember the phone numbers of your high (or secondary) school classmates?
Whatever your reason (hopefully, it’s for better grades), investing time and energy to have a better memory is an investment that pays off even later in life. While most people slowly lose their memories and retention power as they age, you will find yourself hitting home runs with how good you can recall events.
Follow the above tips, and remember, good memory makes you shine (said a wise man).