Memory works (to put it simply) in 3 stages: attention, encoding (storing/associating with other info), and retrieval (remembering). To optimize the final stage, you have to optimize the first two stages. This means you have to pay attention to the material, and you have to encode it well.
Additionally, if you repeat the process, you reinforce it. By retrieving something, you start to pay attention to it again, and then you are able to re-encode it better than before.
To optimize encoding, remember GOAT ME.
G is generate and test. i.e., quiz yourself, or otherwise come up with the answers on your own without just reading them. Even if you get it wrong, it helps more than if you just read the answer off the bat, because you’re forcing yourself to think more about it.Other effective ways of testing yourself are teaching the material to someone else and talking about it out loud to yourself.
O is organize. This reduces the load on your brain and helps create reminders just by coloring, position, or associations with nearby material.You can organize with outlines, pictures, color coding, related material, etc.
A is for avoid illusions of learning. There are two kinds of memory: familiarity/recognition and recall. Recall is what you want. That’s where you can remember the information on your own, as you might be expected to do on a test.Avoid study methods that rely on recognition.
Similarly, a major problem with rereading material is “fluency”. The more you read it, the easier reading it becomes, and when it feels easier to read, you assume you have learned it. You have not. You’ve just become more skilled at reading it. Don’t bother highlighting your textbook in the first go either. You feel like you’re picking out the important parts of the chapter but you can’t know what’s really important until you’ve read the whole thing. And then all you’re gonna do anyway is go back and reread all the highlights, and as we’ve established, rereading is useless. If instead you actually organize the highlights and quiz yourself on them, highlighting may be useful. For a similar reason, rewriting information is also not very helpful unless you use it as a method of quizzing.
T is take breaks. This is HUGE. If nothing else, walk away with just this tip. Your memory works best if you study in frequent, short sessions rather than one long cram session. You don’t give your brain a chance to store the earlier info you studied, so it just slips out of your mind, and you’ll have wasted your time studying it. So study for awhile, go do something else for a bit, and come back to it, and repeat.Even if you take regular breaks, an all nighter will do more harm than good. Your memories are stored more permanently after sleep. This is just how the brain works. You can even try to work naps into your study sessions. It’s a break + sleep!
M is match learning and testing conditions. This is based off the principle of encoding specificity , which states that, if you want to optimize memory, then the conditions surrounding encoding (e.g., where you are when you study, how tired you are when you study, etc.) should be the same as those surrounding retrieval (e.g., where you are when you’re tested, how tired you are when you’re tested, etc.). This is because the conditions themselves serve as reminders.
E is elaborate. Think deeply about the material and make other associations with it. At the most extreme, this can mean truly understanding the concept, why it works, how it relates to other concepts, and how it’s applied.But on a simpler level, it can be the following: Does it remind you of something else? Can you make a song out of it? Can you visually imagine it? How does it apply to you or your life? Elaboration allows for a lot of creativity and individuality among students.
1. Listen to baroque classical music as it stimulates the brainIf you don’t like classical music and pop is distracting, you can probably get an audio track this is just white noise. It won’t distract you, and it will keep you focused. You can set the volume only loud enough to drown out the background noise.
2. We have cycles where we are more alert and you need to make use of these periods.
3. First, be friend with top students, they will help you, and keep you closer to studying.
4. Teach others, it is proven that it helps you more than the person you are teaching.