When facing exams it can be a real struggle to remember everything, and have faith in yourself that you can recall the necessary information at the right moment. So here’s our top memory tips for exam preparation.
1. Declutter your space, free your mind
If there’s too much going on around you, less information will stick in your brain. Before you sit down to revise or learn a new subject, clear the space around you. Bring order to your learning environment and you’ll find it has the same effect in your mind. Once your mind is clear, it’s more open to take in new information.
2. Rhyme the information
Rhymes are easier to remember that plain text - and if you’re trying to remember a set of data or principles, making your own rhyme can really help.
You may remember some old ones from school - such as:
30 days hath September, April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31
Except February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
So if you’re stuck on recalling a topic try and see if you can make up a rhyme - it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, just as long as you can remember it in the exam.
3. Memory Palace
A memory palace is an imaginary place in your mind where you store images. These images should be related to the topic or subject that you’re learning.
A memory palace can be used to memorise huge volumes of information, and best of all, because it’s all down to your imagination, you can constantly expand it. It works like this:
1. Visualise a building or road. Populate your mental image with details, such as what you see in each room or what’s on either side of the road.
2. Mentally connect an image of each of the features you see – such as a chair in your imagined house, or a tree by the side of your imagined road – with a manageable chunk of information (such as a tax legislation). Think about the two together in depth and make sure you’ve really learned the information and its associated image.
3. To recall the information in the exam, simply retrace your steps through the building or down the road and pick out the objects you’ve associated with the information.
4. When you want to add additional information to your memory bank, you can simply add another room to your imaginary building or take a turn off your imaginary road that will house this new information.
Far easier to remember than their actual name, mnemonics are created by taking the first letter of a series of things you wish to remember, and assigning them a much easier to remember set of words. For example:
Richard of York gave battle in vain = Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet - the colours of the rainbow, in the correct order.
My very enormous master joyfully sits upon naughty pupils = Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto (not a planet any more) - the order of the planets from the sun.
Never eat cake, eat salad sandwiches and remain young = Necessary - a word that many people miss-spell.
So if you can try and learn a set of information by assigning a clever, more memorable phrase, you’ll find it easier to recall the information when it’s needed. Just don’t forget your mnemonic.
5. Practical experience
There’s nothing like hands on experience to make theories and subjects stick. If you can, try out a subject in real life. For example, if you’re studying budgeting, try and do a household budget for real, and you’ll see how to balance income and outgoings, and see just how much you’re spending. It sounds really obvious, but doing things means you’ll have experience to draw on in the exam. Theories will be more “real” and not just words in a text book.
6. Smells help you remember
Have you ever smelt something and it’s brought back a vivid memory? Well how about trying that when you’re studying. When studying for a particular exam, say bookkeeping, dab on your wrist something that smells distinctive, like a particular perfume or cologne. Then wear that same smell during your bookkeeping exam. You’ll be amazed how much more the brain recalls when it’s associated with a smell. Try using different scents for different subjects, and wear the relevant scent when sitting the exam.
7. Pictures are worth a thousand words
If you’ve got an artistic streak, try and draw the concept you’re learning about. Images have a much longer lasting effect than words on a page. Even a flow chart or diagram can help with information recall. Even a spider diagram can change the way you look at a subject. Then when you need to remember a particular piece of information, you remember where it was on the page and that jolts your memory of what it was about.
Just having the right resources can really help you structure your learning and aid memory recall. Whether that’s just the study text, or a combination of pocket notes, revision cards, mock exams and videos. We all learn differently and memory recall is just the same. Whatever works for you might not be the same as anyone else. Try out a few different techniques and see what the right method is for you.