Help! How can I fix my awful memory? I read stuff for class and immediately forget what I just read. I study, but nothing seems to stick. I just forgot who I was writing this email to.
Barring any recent head trauma, I feel pretty safe in saying–no offense–you are W.R.O.N.G., wrong! I call “foul!” You have unfairly maligned your memory. No doubt it sulks in some moldy corner of your cranium awaiting an apology that will–let’s face it–probably never come.
Amy, Amy, Amy, *sigh*; you’ve just forgotten how great your memory actually is (isn’t life just chock full o’ little ironies?). Your memory is scary powerful, and I can prove it. Continue reading →
“All subjects are the same. I memorize notes for a test, spew it, ace it, then forget it. What makes this scary for the future of our country is that I’m in the tip-top percentile on every standardized test. I’m a model student with a very crappy attitude about learning.”
Did you ever try to iron a shirt with a cold iron? Could you get that shirt ironed without the heat? Sure, but it would take for-freakin-ever! Ironing a nice fold into a shirt is oh-so-much faster when you’ve got HEAT.
Trying to learn stuff by going over it again and again is about as effective as ironing with a cold iron. You can do it, but it’s sloooooow and it’s a LOT of work. Getting memories ironed into your brain is much easier if you know how to Bring The Heat! Continue reading →
Your brain works better when you take regular breaks. Watch the video on that here. Now there’s a waaaay easy way to time your study time and your break time. Check out the easily configurable and free Marinara timer online. Bonus: here’s a timer perfect for 45 minute study sessions with 5 minute breaks in between.
Yeah, I know, I’m promising a lot. Is it really and for true possible to get smarter in five minutes? Heck yes it is. In fact, you can prolly get smarter in less time than that. The trick to getting smarter about any topic from Physics to French to fructivore physiology is to focus your thinking on that topic. Well, duh! But hear me out; focused thinking involves searching for patterns in the information, drawing comparisons between the object of study and other things you already know, translating difficult concepts into your own everyday jargon, and–in short–processing the information at a higher level.
Good news here, people. You already have one of the most powerful mental processing tools known to man literally at your fingertips. HINT: It has nothing to do with silicon or Steve Jobs. Continue reading →
Is it possible to actually get smarter during the summer whilst basking at the beach? Absolutely, yes! How? Take this semester’s notes and give them a light going over every week or two–while at the beach, if you like. Quiz yourself over them. Practice a bit. I’m not saying you’ve got to spend hours; just a little refresher every now and then. You’ll be transferring all that hard won knowledge into the vaunted vaults of your long term memory while the hottie with the pre-cancerous tan next to you is ever so slowly losing her spring semester learning and getting dumberer.
Taking frequent breaks maximizes your brain’s ability to recall. Hundreds of variations on experiments first performed in the late 1800s have confirmed that taking a 5 to 10 minute break every thirty or forty minutes will help you get the most out of your overworked and underappreciated neurons.
To help you remember to take study breaks, take a look at the free online app, Unforgetit. It’s perfect for setting break reminders to get you up off your duff on a regular schedule.
Want more details about breaks and maximizing your memory? Watch my free study skills video. It will take 45 minutes to watch and save you HOURS this week!
Researchers have developed a game that’s been shown to crank up your smarticle particles. That’s right, the Dual N-Back game–downloadable gratis–actually increases your short term memory AND your fluid intelligence (in layman-ese, “smarts”).
Or read the research for yourself in the peer-reviewed article from the engagingly-acronymed PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science). Apparently, the more you play the game, which involves recalling a square’s position on a grid while simultaneously recalling a spoken letter, the brainier you get.
I’ve played for 18 hours straight, and now I’m remotely writing this blog post using only my awesome-tastic mental powers [not really]. So download and play, mental ninety-pound weaklings of the world, and become the cerebral Adonis you were meant to be while lesser mortals drool into their Cheerios. [Not sure about the punctuation in that last, suspiciously run-onish sentence. A few more hours of play should take care of that.]
Part five of 5 Easy Review Tricks series — See the other parts at the bottom of this post.
5. Talk about it. [hidepost]Another way to elaborate–to do something with the information you’re learning–is to put it into your own words. This simple act not only forces you to recall it, it makes you process the information at a higher level. “How can I phrase that? What metaphor can I use?” BONUS: If you say it out loud, you’ll hear the information as well as seeing it written in your notes. Cha-ching! Recall cash-in.
But don’t stop at talking to yourself. Any teacher can tell you that the best way to learn anything (except maybe how to tease bears) is to teach someone else. That is absolutely true, and it’s solid memory gold.
Find a study partner or three and take turns reteaching one another. Have the “learners” play dumb-but-interested. They should ask questions for clarification and force you to devise new metaphors and verbal illustrations to explain whatever you are teaching.
Supercharge this by turning it into a game. Pick the three or four most commonly used words that people use to describe whatever concept you’re explaining and make those words taboo (like the game Taboo). Have your learners try to catch the teacher using one of the taboo words. For instance, try explaining the concept “mammal” without using the words, “animal,” “fur,” “milk,” or “warm blooded.” The “teacher” also can’t use any variation or portion of the taboo words. So in that example, “blood” and “furry” would be out too. Learners will listen more carefully and the teacher will think harder to explain the concept.[/hidepost]