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Whether you are studying History or Biology, you’ll probably be required to memorize quite a lot in college. Here are a few useful tips to help you avoid forgetting key information.
Passively reading your notes won’t be enough to remember them. Passively reading makes you feel familiar with the material when you see it again on a test. But your main goal should be to understand the material so well that you can actively recall it. Writing out your notes and reading them out loud helps greatly.
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “When we teach, we learn.” This is sometimes called the protege effect, and you can use it to your advantage! (As long as you can find a willing pupil.)
Name mnemonics is a memory technique that helps you remember lists of items by using memorable phrases or acronyms. Examples: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (to memorize the order of operations in math), and My Very Energetic Mother Jumps Skateboards Under Nana's Patio (to remember the planets and their order from the sun).
A memory palace is an imaginary location that includes symbols for things you are trying to remember. Start by picking a familiar place, like the house you grew up in. Plan a specific route through your imaginary location and imagine ‘scenes’ in each room that represent what you need to know. The wackier the scenes, the better! For example, if you need to remember that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo in June of 1815, you can envision Napoleon next to a water fountain, standing on a giant June bug, lecturing his 18- and 15-year-old niece and nephew.
Choose scenes for each room along your route. Practice walking through your palace in your mind. Follow your path through each room, e.g. the living room, the kitchen, the office, etc., imagining each scene as you go. Once you practice your walkthrough a few times, you’ll be ready to call your palace to mind next time you need to remember a long list. The reason the memory palace works so well is because it’s easier to remember vivid imagery as you imagine walking along a familiar path. Facts and figures are difficult to memorize, but with the aid of a memory palace, calling them to mind becomes second nature.
What are you trying to remember this week? Tell us what you’re memorizing this week in a tweet with #memorypalace and we’ll quiz you on Twitter in a week. Study with us and we’ll help you ace your classes.