How to Improve Your Memorization Skills

My memorization skills where what got me through high school. It’s how I easily remembered and could recall every president of the U.S., memorized documents from history, and knew math formulas. I made my way through hundreds of flashcards and mnemonics each semester and always saw success from doing so. I would even sit and rewrite and repeat to myself the things that I couldn’t memorize to make it stick in my mind. Once I got to college I realized that other people didn’t memorize or study like I did and I realized that I might have a few tips to share.

Repetition

This is a major component to memorization. Whether you repeatedly say something out load, go over the same flashcards, or review the same sections of the study guide over and over, repetition is key. It’s the way to finally drill those last five flashcards that you can’t understand into your mind. It might take a little bit of time to get all of the information into your head, but that time is completely worth it.

Mnemonics

Did you ever have a math teacher in elementary school, middle school, or even high school use PEMDAS with you? You know, parenthesis, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and subtract? That is a mnemonic. In elementary school I remember always struggling with memorization and getting so frustrated trying to remember everything for my science tests, then my mom heard me recite PEMDAS off to my brother as he struggled through his math homework and she knew there had to be a way to incorporate that into my studying. So obviously, mnemonics is something I have used and that has been useful for me for a while. If there is a series of something that I need to memorize, I always try to come up with something crazy or silly that I will for sure remember. In fact, after I get my tests I often quickly scribble my sentence in the corner just in case. I’ve even had professors comment on liking my use of study tools.

Memorize in small chunks

I’m a big believer in using flashcards for memorization since that is the method that works best for me. If I’m sitting down with a new set of flashcards to study I will often pull 5 of the flashcards and go over those over and over until I feel I know it. Then I move onto the next 5 and so on. Occasionally I will go back through the stack of flashcards I’ve already gone over just for more review. Memorization is always more successful when it’s done in small chunks.

Say and repeat things out loud

I purposely reserve study room or study in my apartment just so I can read things out loud. If I am just starting to review something or am having a hard time remembering something, I say it outload several times. Studies have actually proven that saying things outload actually improves your memorization skills because you are using more than one sense. For me, I’ve definitely found that to be true so you should try it out too.

Focus on key phrases

In college, especially upper level courses, it always seems like you get long, drawn out definitions. Personally, those always seem to get jumbled in my mind since typically two or three are very similar despite two words flip flopped. Now, instead of trying to memorize all of it I simply focus on the key words. Typically I will go through and high light the key words in my notes, flash cards, or study guide and I am good to go.

Do you memorize for tests? What tips do you use from this list? Are there any tips you would add to this list? If you needed to brush up on your memorization skills, what tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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