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]
Part four of 5 Easy Review Tricks series — See the other parts at the bottom of this post.
4. Draw it out. If you aren’t taking a pencil and making your own charts, graphs, illustrations, diagrams, mind maps, topical doodles, etc. then you are losing out on one of the best memory mastery techniques there is.
Most students only draw in their notes what the professor draws on the board or shows in her PowerPoint. For shame. Copying down what you see before you will help recall, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as coming up with your own illustration. Recall from earlier posts, the most powerful way to recall info is to use elaboration–doing something with the info. So do something with the info–illustrate it.
“But I ain’t a good drawrer,” you protest. Pshah! You don’t need to be. These pictures aren’t for anyone but yourself. Use stick figures, basic geometric shapes, and labels. You’ll be fine. For an in-depth how-to, take a look at The Back of the Napkin, by Dan Roam. My own review of the book ended up at, “not worth buying, but definitely worth looking through.” You may decide to buy … more power to ya. BONUS: Most of us recall images much more easily than words.
Take a look at these examples. Note that we ain’t talking Mona Lisa here; legible is all we are going for. The one from the NASA engineer led to a tremendous breakthrough in the aerospace field.
See if you can best me in a memory test and lend a helpful brain-cell to University of Edinburgh psychologists in the process. Schlepp on over to the BBC memory test and take twenty minutes to test out your memory muscles. Then click “more” below to see how I did.
Dust off those synapses and belly up to the brain bar, pardner. You’re going to like this. Website Smart.fm takes some of my favorite learning principals (staggered review, automaticity, the Ebbinghaus learning curve, and more) and puts them all together in one slick and sociable site. Enter in whatever info you want to sear into your cerebellum or take advantage of the memory sets others have already created.
Take a peek at the intro video and then go give it a whirl. Click the pic to watch the video at YouTube.
Most of us have been making flash cards since an enthusiastic third-grade teacher first used them to pound the multiplication facts into our resisting little cranial cavities. Why did she do it? Why, Mrs. Payne, why?
News flash; Flash Cards, boring and basic though they may be, work. But. They don’t work nearly as well for most of us as they should. Why? Because you’re doing it wrong. At least, I was doing it wrong throughout most of my college career. Here’s how to avoid my early mistakes. Continue reading 5 Flashcard Mistakes You May Be Making→
How far in advance should I start studying for a test?
You should be studying for the test at the beginning of the semester. Every time you read a text or take notes in class, be thinking, “how will this look on the test?”. Here’s what an optimal study schedule will look like. Study those notes…
The BBC produced a program on how to improve your memory that’s worth a watch. Warning: it’s in British, so you may have to do a bit of translating. For example, when they ask you the coin question, think about a common coin in your country.