Retaining as much information as possible when revising can seem almost impossible, especially when most students are studying for multiple exams in a short period of time. Rather than sitting for long hours, re-reading the same material and still finding it tricky to retain so much information, we’ve discovered some simple study habits that will be much more beneficial when it comes to memory. We guarantee they’ll help transform study time as well as help students achieve higher academic results.
Take More Breaks
Research has shown that recall goes down if you work solidly for too long. Instead try taking a short break every hour - this is extremely beneficial as it helps improve focus on the task in hand without becoming distracted. It has also been shown that memory is at its strongest before and after a break, so it’s the perfect time for you to tackle trickier topics.
If we are exposed to the same information from lots of different sources we are much more likely to remember it. Instead of just reading from your notes for all of your revision sessions mix it up a bit. Use different books, read material online or watch a YouTube video on the topic - we guarantee it will help!
Lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on memory, retention and processing. Research has even shown that staying up all night to study can actually cut a person’s capacity to learn new things by up to 40%. Deep sleep also causes physical changes to the brain such as strengthening pathways between brain cells around whatever it is that’s being learnt and also preparing for learning. It’s really important that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep (if not more) per night.
Multiple studies suggest that exercise can significantly help improve memory, attention, information processing and problem solving. In fact, exercise increases the levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is important for the growth of brain cells. Get your blood pumping by taking part in at least 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week. This can be a walk, playing football in the park, or enjoying after-school sports clubs.
Don’t Study In One Place
We all know how easy it is to sit in the same spot for hours on end studying. However, science suggests that switching up study locations is a great way to improve retention. In fact, it gives the brain more locations to associate the material with, meaning you’ll be able to remember more information when it comes to your exams.
Engage With The Information
Simply reading, highlighting or copying study material isn’t going to help you retain the information. Instead you need to engage with information on a deeper level to be able to remember it efficiently. Whether you reorganise your notes, create charts or mind maps, there are loads of different techniques you can use to help the information stick. Here are a few to consider - just remember different things work for different people.
- Mnemonics - Mnemonics are memory tools that you can create yourself to form associations with information that is otherwise difficult to recall. This might involve creating vivid mental pictures, making up stories to remember a sequence of information, or picturing facts as locations on a map.
- Mind Maps - Mind maps are a good way of organising and simplifying information, and seeing connections between different areas of a topic. They can be an effective memory trigger as often it’s the actual act of drawing out a mind map that will help you recall in an exam.
- Index Cards/Sticky Notes - Write facts on index cards or sticky notes and stick them in places around your home such as next to the fridge or on your bedroom wall. Look at them often and say them aloud to yourself every day. When you think you know them, take them down and ask a family member or friend to test you to see how much information you have retained from each one.
- Teach It - Studies have shown that teaching someone the information you’re revising really helps commit the material to memory, rather than passively looking over it. Conducting mini lessons for others is also a great way for students to test their knowledge, practice understanding and explanation, as well as note any areas they need to have another look at.