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We use a range of things to help us store memories and recall them when they're needed, including pictures and colour, language, organisation, repetition, emotions, spatial awareness, and all five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
The techniques below make use of these features. Using them should help you concentrate, understand and remember what you're learning
Studies have shown that most people who try to remember a list of 30 words, will recall some words from the beginning of the list and some from the end, but very few from the middle.
This effect is known as:
It is also easier to recall the words if the list is divided into a number of short meaningful lists. This is known as chunking.
To apply the recency, primacy and chunking effect:
This will help you to optimise your study time by studying in chunks, and building in lots of beginnings and endings.
A mnemonic (pronounced 'nemonic') is a device, such as a pattern, rhyme or picture, which is used to help you remember things that may otherwise be difficult to remember.
A simple mnemonic to remember a list of things is to make up a sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue for the items you have to remember.
For example, if you have to remember the order of the planets from the Sun Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). To help you remember this, make up a sentence where each word starts with the same initial letter, in the same order. For example: Most volcanoes expel mulberry jam sandwiches under normal pressure.
It's ridiculous, but that makes it more memorable. And if you turn it into a picture, it'll be even easier to remember.
Peg systems are mnemonics that use words, letters, pictures or shapes (or pegs) that are associated with numbers.
These pegs are then linked to a list of things to be memorised.
We use our senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) to take in information about the world around us. Most of the time we don't passively accept the information we obtain from our senses, we use our thoughts and imagination to make sense of the information and to remember it.
This can be applied to helping you remember what you're studying.
Our brains like pictures. Often we think in pictures, we dream in pictures, so using pictures and visualisation can help you remember. For example, you could:
Have you ever had the experience of a scent reminding you of something that happened long ago?
Make this work for your studies. For example, you could suck a lemon lolly while studying something you must remember and try to associate the taste and smell with what you have to remember. Then take a similar lolly into the exam room and use the taste and smell to jog your memory.
Use your finger to trace out the letters of something you have to remember. Think about what the surface feels like and try to remember the movement and the shape of your letters - this will help you remember them.
Our imagination uses things like stories, humour, symbolism, colour, and exaggeration, so use them to help you remember what you're studying. For example:
A story that links a number of facts is much easier to remember than a list of facts. This is because as each part of the story leads on to the next, each fact you remember is cue to help you remember the next. The story links them together and helps trigger your memory.
The more memorable the story, the easy it is to remember the things you have to learn. To help with this, try to see the events and interactions in your mind’s eye as you’re telling yourself the story.
An example of how to use the story method:
To remember the names of the Seven Dwarfs in the fairy story Snow White, you can make up a story to help you:
I’m usually Sleepy when I wake up at seven in the morning, but today I was wide awake and Grumpy because I knew I had to visit the Doc. I’m normally quite Bashful about going, but a friend told me not to be so Dopey, as I had an allergy that was making me very Sneezy. After went, and was given an antihistamine really very Happy!