Last year, it came around to revision time, and I really started to struggle. There was so much to learn, and nothing seemed to stay in my head. But I ended up doing alright in my exams, due to learning some great tricks to help your memory. Some find these tricks hard to put into action, but from my own personal experience, they worked pretty well, so I thought I’d share them with you.
The first technique involves remembering lists, particularly where the order of the list is important. To try this out, write a list of 15 random words, and try to remember them, in order, before I’ve taught you the technique. Now look through the list and try to think of a memorable image to represent each item. Things are more memorable, the more exaggerated and funny we find them, so really make your images outrageous. Then go down your list, connecting the images into a story, with the actions between the objects equally being as memorable as possible. These actions should not be passive, like just changing into each other, or talking to each other, but active movements that create interesting images in your mind. You should also try not to repeat the images or actions throughout your list. Now go through your complete story several times to make sure it’s secure in your head. Then hide your list and try to remember all of the words again in order, by going through the story in your head. Hopefully, this should have made it easier. If you struggled to remember some of the list, then go back and make these images and actions even more memorable, to make them stay in your head better next time.
Next, I will show you a way to expand on the system we just learnt. This may be familiar to fans of the BBC television show Sherlock, since the title character uses it in the form of his ‘memory palace’. To begin with this technique, think of a route that you are familiar with, for example, the way you walk to school, or a walk around your house, going into each room in a particular order. Now think of several key points along that route, this could be each room, or if you’re walking down the street, a particular post box you pass every day. Now, at each of these memorable points on your journey, add a memorable image to help you represent an item, just like you did earlier. The difference is, that now, if you need to remember an extra detail, you can just add it in to your imaginary space as another part of the funny picture. Through, this method, you can remember far more detailed pieces of information than previously.
The reason for the success of these techniques is that when we simply repeat information over and over again, it may go into our heads but it can be hard to retrieve it again afterwards. This method links information to memorable images, so that there is a much easier route back to the original piece of information. In a future article, I will go onto some techniques that can help with remembering numbers, like birthdays or historic dates!
Image from: http://whatcanilearntoday.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/119610504.jpg