5 Memorization Techniques For More Effective Exam Prep

When it comes to studying for an exam, memory is (obviously) a very important component. And contrary to popular belief, memory is a skill that can be refined and improved over time. By improving your memorization techniques, you can simplify the study process and perform better on exams.

5 Memorization Techniques to Try

The brain is malleable. In scientific terms, we use the term neuroplasticity to describe its ability to change and adapt over time. And when you think about memory formation, it’s this incredible plasticity that allows you to absorb massive amounts of information with striking accuracy.

As you prepare for your exam, here are a few tactics that work with your brain’s natural memory formation abilities to amplify recall. Try a few out and see what happens.

  • Retrieval Practice

You’ve probably heard psychologists talk about “retrieving” information from a person’s memory. When they use this term, they’re talking about the practice of remembering a piece of information that you previously heard, read, or saw. And this same practice can be used to amplify your recall. 

Retrieval practice helps you (1) lock information into your memory, (2) find gaps in your knowledge, and (3) apply information to brand new contexts.

There are a number of retrieval practice strategies. You’ll have to figure out which ones work best for you. One strategy is to occasionally pause from your studies to write down everything you know from memory onto a blank sheet of paper. Work on squeezing out every drop of knowledge you have on the topic. 

After you’ve done that, go back with a different colored pen and fill in the gaps. Next time around, focus on remembering the missing pieces. 

Flashcards and practice questions are other great ways to use retrieval practice. If you’re taking a study course – such as a CPA review course – be on the lookout for courses that provide plenty of retrieval exercises and elements. This will improve your overall study experience.

  • Image-Name Associations

The human brain has naturally evolved to process visuals more easily than plain text. Thus, if you want to increase your chances of remembering a specific term or concept, you can get better results by associating the name with a unique image. 

  • Mind Mapping

One of the keys to remembering lots of information on a topic is to connect the proverbial dots. You can strengthen your brain’s ability to do this by using mind mapping.

Mind mapping is the process of drawing graphical maps that connect different terms and topics. You simply grab a sheet of paper and begin jotting down information, using lines or arrows to connect different ideas until you have a map that’s easy to visualize in your brain. 

  • Mind Palaces

The mind palace technique is one of the more interesting and effective options. It takes some time to perfect, but if you invest enough energy, it’s virtually foolproof. 

This method, which is also known as the “method of loci,” works like this:

  • Position yourself in one corner of your room and begin populating different items in that corner with details of what you want to memorize. For example, if you’re memorizing a speech, you’ll associate each line of the speech’s first paragraph with a different item.
  • Gradually move in a clockwise direction to the other corner of the room and associate these elements with more information.
  • Do this until you’ve gone through the entire speech (or whatever it is you’re memorizing).
  • Retrace your steps and pick out the objects to jog your memory.
  • Next time you need to recall the information, simply take a mental walk through your room. The information will return to you more readily. 
  • The Chaining Technique

With the chaining technique, you develop a sentence or story around a piece of information so that you can easily recall it. For example, you might remember the order of the presidents of the United States by pretending they’re each invited to a dinner party and must bring one item. The time you choose then becomes associated with that president. (George Washington brings a red apple; John Adams brings a leather book; etc.)

Boost Your Memory

The key to improving your memorization and recall is to work with your brain – not against it. Avoid waiting until the last minute to cram information into your noggin. Instead, give yourself plenty of time and use proven techniques (like the ones outlined above) to accelerate your results.

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