10 Ways to Remember Things When Studying – When you’re studying for an exam, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. You may not always be in the same place as your notes, and if you read something once, chances are you won’t remember it the next time around. Luckily, there are lots of ways to improve your memory while studying that don’t require expensive software or taking potentially dangerous drugs. Here are 10 clever ways to remember things when studying that will help you make the most of your time with textbooks and lecture notes without taking too much time away from studying itself!
10 Ways to Remember Things When Studying
1) Have your own study spot
Sitting around with friends and fellow students may seem fun, but distractions like smartphones and late-night study sessions actually impede your ability to absorb information. Find a quiet spot where you can sit by yourself, undisturbed, and focus on what you’re reading or writing. Remember that public places like coffee shops are often full of distractions—you might want to keep your books at home instead. Be sure also that you take breaks when necessary; prolonged periods of studying are not only exhausting but ineffective as well; try a 10–20 minute power nap for maximum benefits.
2) Use visual reminders
Memorize something and you’ll remember it more effectively when it’s in a visual form. Mental images are much more effective than simple verbal reminders or thoughts. For example, if you want to remember where you put your keys, don’t tell yourself: I left my keys on top of that table next to that chair. Instead, picture your keys sitting on top of a red table next to a blue chair. It takes just seconds longer but can significantly improve your ability to remember—and not just while studying! This simple trick will help you find lost items around your house and can be used in daily life as well.
3) Group similar tasks together
Remembering one thing is hard enough, but trying to remember everything you need for an entire day of studying is overwhelming. Instead of studying tasks one by one, create a list and try not to stray from it. For example, make a list of all your vocab words that you need to memorize and keep that separate from your study schedule. Then write out another list with each vocab word followed by an hour number: 5 o’clock: work on math problems. Grouping similar things together into lists will make things easier to remember over time.
4) Set study times
It may seem obvious, but if you don’t set aside specific times for studying and make sure to use them consistently, it can be difficult to keep up with. Choose a time of day (or two) when you are most productive—just like working out at certain times or eating certain meals can help boost your energy levels—and stick with it. Getting into a routine will also make it easier to remember what you need to do each day (e.g., read that book chapter or make flashcards). Using an online scheduler can help ensure you’re scheduling in time for studying—especially important if other things are always getting in your way!
5) Reward yourself
The first time you complete a task, reward yourself. Whether it’s five minutes of Facebook fun or a glass of wine with dinner, treat yourself. This will make you more likely to stay motivated because you will associate studying with pleasure and relaxation instead of inconvenience and frustration. If your attention span only lasts for about 20 minutes, force yourself to study for that amount of time before rewarding yourself with a break. The key is making sure that your brain associates studying with rewards so that it makes sense to continue rather than forcing and punishing yourself into continuing something you dislike doing.
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6) Look for connections between tasks
It’s easy to get distracted and feel like you’re forgetting things, but you’re probably not. Instead of writing an item down over and over again, look for connections between tasks. Take a study break, go for a walk, do something else entirely — then when you come back your brain will be wired with all sorts of connections that help make sure things stick. Connecting ideas makes it easier for your brain to remember facts—and it works in everything from school assignments to grocery lists. Give yourself a time limit: Most people have limited attention spans when it comes to studying.
7) Break down complicated tasks into simpler steps
Break down complicated, overly-long tasks into simpler and more manageable steps. For example, it can be hard to focus on and remember an entire speech or report. Instead of sitting down with a blank piece of paper or computer screen and trying to figure out how you’re going to do it all in one go, break things up by making a list of each step in your task and working through them one at a time. Divide it up over days if you have plenty of time. Dividing things up into smaller tasks makes a big project feel more manageable, too—and easier to remember when you’re cramming for an exam.
8) Go somewhere quiet
It might be tempting to study where you do your other work, but try going somewhere new and quiet. You’ll stay more focused if you don’t have all those distractions. If it helps, wear headphones or earplugs; anything that will minimize outside noise is a good thing when you’re studying. Turn off social media: Stay away from social media and other time-wasting websites as much as possible while you’re studying. You need to stay focused on your task at hand and resist any temptation! Ask questions: Do you understand everything being taught? If not, ask for help.
9) Repeat key words over and over again in your head until you’re ready to go over them again.
You may not feel like you’re learning much of anything when you’re repeating words over and over again, but it turns out your brain is a sponge. Repeating things in your head helps reinforce their meaning, which makes them easier to remember later on. This technique doesn’t necessarily apply directly to studying per se, but it can be applied anywhere you need to retain new information. If you’re trying to learn a fact for an exam, try memorizing it by reciting it silently—with yourself—over and over again. You might have seen kids doing something similar in school when they’re told that saying something five times will help them remember it better. It’s true!
10) Eliminate distractions
The average person can only focus on one thing for about 10 minutes before they start to get distracted. Multitasking, watching TV while studying, or even listening to music can make it harder for you remember what you just read. Unplugging from distractions—like social media and cable news—while studying can help you retain information better. Just be sure not to completely unplug from your friends too—studies show that social connection aids memory retention.