remember what you study + Feel Confident your study strategies will lead to success
Are you frustrated because you are putting in regular study time and yet still don’t know how to remember what you study?
You’re not alone.
So many of my students share they are putting in the time, working hard to go through their learning materials, and still coming up short at exam time, struggling to remember what they studied. It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and sucks the motivation out of you.
The good news is this big problem has a very simple solution and it has a major impact on how quickly you are able to do on your exams.
The Problem With Only Working Forward
You have been studying every single day for three weeks, working on your textbook reading. There is an exam coming up covering the readings from the past three weeks. You start working on the practice tests and realize you don’t remember most of this material. WTF? You did the readings. You even took notes. Why can’t you just remember what you studied?
You may not only be able to imagine this, but you may also be living it. And if so, you are in the right place, my friend!
I feel your pain, I’ve lived your pain, and unfortunately, this is the way most of us study. We stay focused on the next task in front of us, always working on the next and new information. This keeps us on schedule to complete assignments but doesn’t do a good job of preparing us for exams. When you are learning new material (aka, going to college) it is unrealistic to expect that you can read it once and it will stick in your memory.
Unrealistic, but somehow we all think it should work this way. 🙂
And that’s why you were just Googling how to remember what you study, no?
Here’s the truth: we only learn something new through repetition and practice.
How many times did you have to practice a song on the piano to play it effortlessly? How many times do you use a new app or program before you remember how it works?
I did a little research, er, Googling, trying to understand how many times we need to see a new fact to remember it. It depends. Factors like our previous knowledge and the ways we embed information have a big impact. This also backs up why the four steps to master memorization are so effective because they embed information in different ways. This article suggests you need to see a fact at least seven times to remember it.
how to remember what you study
To remember what you study you need spaced repetition, which is simply saying you need to revisit the material many times. You know I like an easy-to-implement system, so here is what I suggest:
- Study new material and take awesome notes. You want to focus 90% of your efforts on moving forward and learning new material
- Put 10% of your effort towards looking back at what you have previously studied. This means:
- Schedule a 15-minute cumulative review each day.
- Schedule it at the same time to help the habit stick.
- During your cumulative review, look at your notes from all of the previous material. Don’t forget to close your eyes and recall what’s on the page to challenge yourself to recall it and not just recognize it (which is what we do when we read something over and over).
- Taking effective notes is the key to doing this review quickly, and remember to always refine your notes.
By practice this simple 15-minute review practice you see amazing results in what you are able to remember over the course of a week. This small daily commitment is going to add up as well. When it is exam time you find much of the information is already in memory. Whatever details are left you haven’t yet memorized can quickly be added so you are ready to slay the test.
Try It Yourself: 15-minute Challenge
- Start today! Set aside fifteen minutes and review your notes.
- Repeat tomorrow.
- And the next day.
- Leave a comment below and let me know how you remember what you study with this strategy.
- Ace the exam.