Memorisation is exactly how it sounds, it is using various methods to memorise something better; know something off by heart. Everyone studies in different ways and memorisation is one of the key ways to revise. While memory may be undermined these days as everyone can easily use their phone or computer to look things up and get help, this will not help when it comes to exam season, module quizzes or your overall course development.
Humans have a variety of types of memory, one being procedural. This is what enables people to remember actions. An example of this would be driving, swimming or playing football. Then people have declarative memory, which stores information and facts. Declarative memory will be more useful when it comes to revising and storing everything you have learnt from your degree.
Here are some ways that you can improve your memorisation.
As mentioned earlier, people have different types of memory and one of them is working memory. This brain mechanism comes into play when people repeat things over and over. For example, when someone asks you to fetch something for them, you repeat it in your head to remember it. A blog post by Gretchen Schmelzer states that repetition creates: “Strong chemical interactions at the synapse of your neuron.” This results in long-term memory. However, using repetition and developing long-term memory is not a quick process (hence the word repetition) and needs to be worked on over a long period of time.
Some techniques to help with repetition are:
- Flashcards – When you make these cards, you are actually using repetition as you are going over the information and condensing it. Do not do it for long, short but repetitive sessions with flashcards every day.
- Mindmaps – Although some of you may like to save the work you have done, it would be more useful (and repetitive) to do the mindmap on your laptop and then simply exit without saving. Then, the next day you have to create the same mindmap again.
- Sound – Many forget to use audio when studying and while it is auditory learning, it does help with your memory. An example would be to record yourself saying keywords and their meanings, then listen to it once every day.
This technique may throw you back to primary school, learning spellings and phonics but it works. Mnemonics is using a pattern of numbers or letters to help your memory. For example, Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, everyone knows this phrase to help learn the colours of the rainbow and the pattern of letters helps you remember each colour.
Some ways to improve your mnemonics are:
- Poetry – Not everyone is a poet, interested in literature or likes to write. However, turn some revision notes into a poem and the rhythm may help you remember. You could write a short, four-lined stanza with an A-B-A-B rhythm. Or, you could write an acrostic poem. This was the type of poem you probably wrote when you were a kid. You spell a word, relating to your chosen topic, down the left side of your screen/paper. Then, use that letter to start a word or sentence.
- Rhythm – This is a method that will definitely help if you need to study anything in chronological order. Examples of this would be the alphabet song or the periodic table song. Taking the chronological idea, put some dates in order and create a little rhyme or song with them.
- Pictures – Although this method may be dabbling into the visual side of learning, patterns can be created with images. Use the pattern of a timeline to create a sequence of events, statistics or facts.
As weird as the word ‘chunking’ sounds, it is very simple to do and will help dissect your learning. Chunking is the process of taking apart a topic/subject and putting information into different groups. For example, the subject ‘journalism’ can be broken down into numerous parts: social media, television, radio, law, and society, etc. By splitting it into chunks, it is easier to remember certain facts as you are breaking them down and the information you need is not buried behind pointless information.
Ways to chunk your revision are:
- Mind maps – Use either one side of the paper, one slide of a PowerPoint, or a Word document and dedicate it to one specific topic. For example, (taking the journalism idea) make a word document, create a mind map and write ‘social media’ in the middle. Then, surround it with all the notes you have on social media. By doing this, you are separating all the crucial information you will need and putting a spotlight on it.
- Memory games – This is going to sound completely stupid but can you remember the market game you used to play? The one where you each went around and added something to the shopping list and you had to remember every item? Apply that method but to your subjects. Have a FaceTime session with your friends or classmates, pick a topic and go round saying words or facts about your chosen topic. Similarly, when you are revising for an exam, go around and practice answering exam questions by each of you adding a sentence each time.
- Lists – Why do you think shopping lists are memorable? Because every related to the shop is chunked together by a list. An example would be to group together all the keywords and their definitions from one topic and create a list. Remember, this is all about memorisation so you need to keep repeating the list to ensure that you remember it.
To conclude, I hope you find these methods useful and they do have a positive impact upon your revision and grade.