Master Memorization Quickly with this Four Step Process and prep for exams more easily
Once you have taken good notes, we want to put those notes to use in preparing to ace an exam and master memorization! The goal is to transfer information from your notes into your brain. Sounds easy, but if you’ve been a student for at least a day, you know it isn’t! 🙂
Some of this study requires practice (solving equations or writing a computer program), but much of it will rely on memorization (terminology, dates, names, etc.). These four steps to master memorization will help you commit facts to memory easily and quickly.
Are you terrible at memorization?
I can’t count the number of people who say they are terrible at memorization. I’ve been guilty of hiding behind this excuse myself. It’s an indulgent excuse because if I am terrible at something, then I don’t have to try, right?
We don’t get off that easy!
There are still exams to take requiring us to recall facts from short-term memory. If you’re with me in thinking you are terrible at memorization, don’t worry because being “terrible” at memorization just means you need to practice a better process.
Through good habits, you will improve and start remembering for exam time.
Four Steps to Master Memorization
- Read it from the paper silently in your mind
- Close your eyes and recall it silently to yourself
- Read it from the paper out loud
- Close your eyes and recall/say it out loud
Researchers looked at people’s memory for items on a list of words and found if they studied the list by reading half of the words silently and saying the other half out loud, the words spoken out loud were remembered much better than those read silently.
We’ve got real research here, plus I can tell you from my own experience as a self-proclaimed memory idiot that this strategy works!
If you practice these 4 steps you will have the practice of both recognizing the concept and also recalling it from memory. These are two very different skills and we need the recall most. The extra boost is the combination of silent work and working on it out loud.
It uses memory from four different approaches and leads to a much higher recall.
Recall vs. recognition is a Crucial difference
One reason this strategy works so well is it combines recognition and recall. Most of us study by simply reading over a book or our notes and expect the information to stick. Reading something practices the skill of easy recognition. When you read it you think, “yeah, I know that”, but really what your brain is doing is easily recognizing it. You may not be able to recall it without the notes. Only practicing recognition is often why exams are so frustrating because you have been studying like crazy but still struggle to remember everything during the test.
Recall is a very different skill.
Recall means you are accessing the information from your memory. This is the skill needed when you take an exam. If you want to be able to recall information during an exam you must practice and challenge yourself to recall it before the exam. You are NOT practicing recall when you only read over notes.
Luckily, these four steps to master memorization access both types of review, making it a killer strategy to remember anything.
Grab your free memorization cheat sheet, use the master guide to help you draft a list of what you need to focus on and then start working the four steps. To make this process even more productive, practice revising your notes regularly so you can best focus on what you need to memorize right now.
Try It Yourself: 10-minute Challenge
- Identify one list or a set of 5 terms you need memorize.
- Set a timer and spend 10 minutes practicing the four steps:
- Read it from the paper in your head
- Close your eyes and recite it in your head
- Read it from the paper out loud
- Close your eyes and say it out loud
- Take a break and then test yourself a few minutes later. Can you remember the items you just worked on?
Leave a note below and let me know how your first memorization session goes!
This is part 2 of the memorization series: