Most of us may know that studying should not be based on memory but on understanding the facts.
However, it is inevitable to avoid memory work as it has benefits such as helping to train your brain to retain more information or building a foundation for higher thinking and problem-solving.
Especially for subjects such as Biology, History, and even Geography where there are an overwhelming amount of new terminology and concepts, memory work is paramount.
Memory work is a tedious process and it is a struggle, especially for students with goldfish memory. However, there are some tips to supercharge your memory and I am going to share more about them below!
1. Eat brain food.
Although the results of an improved diet are not significantly evident in your daily life, diet is actually crucial in improving your memory work. As all of us know, one way to keep healthy and fit would be by eating clean and healthily. Similarly, we have to eat proper meals with nutrients to keep our brain healthy such that it can store and retain information longer.
Firstly, food with antioxidants should be included in your diet as they contain molecules that prevent oxidation in the body which will react to harm cells. These antioxidants have anti-aging effects such as slowing down memory loss and others. Food that includes antioxidants is normally found in fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, tomatoes, and apples. Instead of taking out Oreos or a bag of potato chips to munch on, switch to a healthier choice of these fruits to take good care of your brain!
Blueberries, nuts, and granola are all examples of food that can supercharge your brain and hence give your revision a speed boost.
Secondly, we should consume vitamins. In the market, there are actually brain vitamins that act as a supplement for people to improve their memory work. These include vitamin C, vitamin B12, and vitamin E in tablet form. iHerb is a pretty popular and well-known site that sells vitamin supplements that help with revision.
These vitamins are well-known for their ability in improving mental agility. However, these vitamins can be found in natural sources of food. For example, eating more leafy green vegetables, nuts, olives, whole grains, and brown rice can increase the amount of vitamin K in your body.
Blackcurrants are high in vitamin C and vitamin B12 can be found easily in sardines, salmon, and red meats. Hence, you are equipped with the knowledge to choose your meal choices wisely!
Thirdly, Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to improving memory work. This is actually one of the most popular remedies people opt to improve memory work. Since our bodies cannot produce these nutrients ourselves, it is essential to consume them either from natural sources of food like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, and more) or supplements such as fish oil pills. (These pills can be purchased from shops such as GNC and pharmacies.) Omega-3 fatty acids are actually recommended for young adults whose brains are still developing as they will help to boost their memory.
All in all, the above are specific foods that contain the necessary nutrients to increase memory work. As mentioned, it is essential to include a healthy diet in your life to keep fit. Hence, not only should you eat all the mentioned food but ensure you have a balanced meal with 2 servings of fruits and vegetables each. Only this way will your mental and physical health will improve.
Only a few of you may have seen the curve above but it showcases the decline of memory work over time. As seen above, memory will be lost if there are no additional efforts to retain the information. Similarly, memory work done by students for studies will slowly be lost over time. To prevent such from happening, you should always review old concepts by re-memorizing the content over and over again. The Ebbinghaus curve below actually shows that only with 5 repetitions you can retain all of the information for the long term. The decline in the orange curve below depicts the loss of memory over time. The extent of the decline will reduce with each repetition which suggests that the best way to retain all of the information will be through repeated memory work.
Hence, you should definitely repeat your studying several times for each chapter to ensure that your facts are ingrained in your head for a stable foundation!
Here’s a tip! Repeat and re-memorize the content in a way that is most suitable for your learning.
For instance, audio learners can make up a song to help with your memorizing or even memorize out loud. I would recommend separating the content you need to remember into groups of 2-4 phrases and reading each group out loud. Next, repeat them for multiple times without referring and continue for the whole content you need to remember. Lastly, reinforce the memory work by repeating the whole content from beginning to end without stopping.
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Ensure you repeat this whole process about 5 times before your major examination!
Visual learners can try to picture images in their heads while going through the content they have to memories. In addition, I would also suggest to kinesthetic learners walk around while reading out loud to engage the brain in the memorizing process. You can even write out or type out the words to memorize, be creative, and find out what works for you!
Another tip would be to use mnemonics to aid in memory work. Mnemonics are memory devices that aim to help learners break down large chunks of information into their characteristics, steps, stages, or more. There are many types of mnemonics and are only limited to the imagination of each student. However, I will still be sharing some common mnemonics to help you kick-start your learning!
- Expressions or Word Mnemonics
This is one of the most popular ones. For example, to remember the 3 parts of the small intestine: Duodenum, Jejunum, Ileum= David Juggles iPhones
- Model Mnemonics
This involves representing the information for better understanding and recalling. For example, the Krebs cycle is depicted in a circular sequence where only the key features are presented. (fig 1) Another example would be a table to represent the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering.
- Connection Mnemonics
It is to connect the information to something already known. For example, the spelling of principal is not principle because the principal is your pal.
2. Make your own notes/ mind-maps
Note-taking will help to compile the main essence of each chapter to become more concise and succinct than a chunk of words in your textbooks. This way, the main points will be easily highlighted for easier memory work. In addition, you will be reinforcing and reviewing old concepts. Hence, making your own notes will help you become an active learner who can organize, categorize and recall information for each chapter better to facilitate the learning and studying process. This way, you can better memorize your work as you are storing only the important and required information than the irrelevant ones.
Here is what is suggested to include in your notes to remember:
- Main points emphasized by teachers
- Keywords and phrases/ terminologies
I would also recommend color coding your notes to help make you a more efficient learner.
Messy and wordy notebooks with monotone texts make it hard to recall key points. In addition, the color will make the notes come alive and engage the brain as they become more attractive and interesting. This means the information will remain in the brain longer.
I do suggest color coding it, for instance, yellow highlighter for main points, blue highlighter for examples and pink highlighter for explanations. However, do not over-color your notes and highlight everything in the passage. In the end, nothing is emphasized and the highlighting becomes ineffective.
4. Get sufficient rest
Sleep is important as it helps to recharge and re-energize ourselves after a long tiring day. Sleep is definitely crucial to regain energy after a long day in school, especially for students who start school early in the morning. Only with sufficient rest will we be able to have optimal focus attention to memorize and remember information clearly the next day. In addition, the brain consolidates memory during sleep. Sleep will help to cement the new information learned in the day for better recall in the future. Hence, it is not recommended to pull an all-nighter before the day of the exam as the ability to recall and learn new information the next day may drop up to 40%. In addition, I would recommend not over-cramping information into the brain in a single day as it would cause you an overload of information leading to ineffective memory work.
5. What if I have a pretty active day, though?
However, I do understand that a student’s day can get pretty active and it calls for a need to have power naps in between the day. My personal recommendation would be to take daily power naps of only 15-20 minutes, no less and no more. Any less would be insufficient and any more will allow your body to fall into a deeper sleep, causing a higher level of fatigue after waking up. After a power nap, your brain would be freshened up and help you memorize your work better!
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All in all, a healthy mind and body coupled with good studying habits will simplify the arduous task of memory work! Now that you have been equipped with these useful tips, you do not have to dread memory work anymore!