How can students improve their memory? Are there any last minute strategies that can help provide a boost for revision? For students who have put the work in, this blog covers 6 studying hacks to help improve their knowledge.
Throughout the psychological research, the most effective revision strategies include retrieval practice (i.e. having to generate an answer), spacing out your learning so that you do little amounts often and interleaving (i.e. mixing up your subjects). For more information about these, check out our blog that has 15 Ways to Improve Memory.
For students already revising effectively, these proven strategies will provide a few last-minute studying hacks to boost your memory.
1. Explain it to yourself
Research has shown that explaining something to yourself makes you more likely to remember it, as it makes you more likely to consider your response and find deeper connections. If you can’t find a revision partner or just prefer to work alone, explaining the material to yourself will give you a boost. However, self-explanation can also lead you to look for the simplest solution which is not always the correct one, so keep an eye on the details while you’re improving your memory with self-explanation.
2. Change your location
Context matters in terms of how much you recall. Evidence suggests that recall is significantly improved if the environment you are trying to recall in, is like the environment in which you learned the material. This means you can improve your memory by revising in a way similar to taking your exams. This may mean turning off the music and sitting up at a desk (not lying on your bed). It may feel difficult at the time but hopefully will pay off in the exam hall.
3. Think about the first and last ideas
The order in which you study things affects how well you remember them. You are more likely to remember the first and last things you look at, due to the primacy and recency effects (the idea that the first and last ideas stand out while others are more likely to get lost in the middle). This is why popstars start and close their sets with their best songs, so that you remember having a good time. Now, obviously not all your material can be studied first or last, but putting your most challenging topics toward the beginning or end of your studying may help it stick in your head.
4. Close your eyes
A recent study found that participants who closed their eyes when recalling recent information to answer questions got 23% more answers right than those who had their eyes open. Next time you find yourself missing an answer, trying closing your eyes and seeing if anything useful comes to mind.
5. Read things aloud
It has been shown that there is a 12% increase in recall if, when revising, you read information aloud rather reading in silence. This is because reading aloud involves a lot more processing that reading in silence, and the more processing that occurs with information the more likely you are to remember it. When you’re revising at home, reading aloud rather than reading silently might make the different in your exams.
Drawing has been shown to be more effective than writing in remembering single words or short phrases. While further exploration is needed to see if this is true for more complicated ideas, if you are trying to remember single words – perhaps vocabulary for a language exam – then drawing out images associated with the words might be the key to a better result.
There is a wealth of research out there that can help students learn more effectively and efficiently. These are simple changes that can be made to ensure higher levels of retention and recall. When students have got the basics down, small changes like these may make a big difference overall.
For more tips on revision techniques, visit our Best Ways to Revise page, where you will find lots of information, blogs and free resources.