6 Tips on How to *Improve* Memorization Skills For Your Next Exam

by Maxine Nava Valdez   |  May 8, 2023
Image: Pexels Art: Pau Moyano
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Exams are a significant part of academic life, and every student's success depends on how well they can memorize and recall the information. While some students may have a natural ability to remember things quickly, others may need to develop memorization techniques. Here are some tips to help improve your memory for your next exam.

1. Use mnemonics and acronyms

According to a 2019 research, mnemonics and acronyms are effective memory aids, designed to help you remember huge chunks of information by simply associating them with easy-to-remember words or phrases. A great example of this is the acronym ROYGBIV, where each letter represents a color in the rainbow. It’s effective because it’s like your brain is being trained to make a mental shortcut for better information recall!

2. Avoid cramming

While cramming might help you pass an exam at the last-minute, it isn’t actually going to stick in the long run. You’ll eventually forget it as quickly as you learned it. The American Psychology Association suggests that spacing your study sessions is far more effective for memory retention. You can try allotting a number of hours each week in a subject rather than studying it all at once. Initial information reviewed can often become hard to recall, but when you recall it multiples times throughout an extended period of time, you’re likely to remember it better!


3. Create visualizers

Visualizing information is a useful technique that helps students remember things more easily. Mind maps and diagrams are examples of visualizers that can help you connect the dots and relate each piece of information with each other. You can also try to draw what you’re learning so you can absorb its concept in a way that makes most sense to you. This method is effective because it engages both the visual and spatial memory, making recalling the information better. 

4. Read out loud

Reading out loud is a helpful technique that engages the auditory memory. In a 2017 study, researchers dubbed it as “The Production Effect” which explains that the act of speaking and hearing yourself at the same time benefits your memory. By hearing yourself, you create a stronger memory trace which improves information recall.

5. Get enough sleep

Sleep is so important to improve your memory. In 2019, two Massachusetts Institute of Technlogy professors studied how sleep affects their students’ scores in tests. They found out that the less sleep the students get throughout the semester, the worse their grades become. Simply put, you have a better chance of getting a better score when you have sufficient rest to keep your mind focused than dozing off in the middle of an exam. Note that getting sleep is not only important the night before your exam but in the days you actually spend reviewing your materials!

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6. Practice retrieval

Practice retrieval is a technique where you try to recall information from memory without referring to your notes or textbooks. With this method, better memory traces are formed and also helps you to know which topics you still need to focus on. It’s more likely that information gathered can be transferred into your long-term memory so it will reduce the chances of you forgetting useful knowledge during your tests. Plus, it also helps you understand your own learning process!

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Maxine Nava Valdez
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