Performing well on an exam isn’t about how much you can cram into your head the night before. At least, it shouldn’t be! There are better study skills than memorization for students (and teachers) who care more about learning and understanding material. Yet working memory is vital for learning, particularly when students are attempting to combine what they have learned in the past with what they are currently studying. Verbal working memory facilitates holding information in mind as one adds new information or details to existing knowledge. As a result, memory strategies for students can be a powerful tool for developing better study skills.
These memory strategies were designed for kids to use on their own. We encourage parents and teachers to share them with their kids/students to help them improve study skills.
It’s not helpful to attempt to learn everything you need to know for a test in one night.
Instead, study a little bit each night the week before a test. This way you learn a little bit at a time, and the information will stay in your brain longer.
Forget the details.
Don’t try to memorize every detail when you have to study a lot of information.
Instead, memorize the big ideas. For example, if you were studying about Abraham Lincoln, you could learn about the big things he did such as abolishing slavery.
Use music to help you remember things.
You can learn lots of things by making up songs. Have your parents or friends help you make up a rap or song about what you need to remember. Record yourself singing or rapping and listen to it.
Make lists using pictures.
Use pictures instead of words when making a list of what you need to remember. For instance, If you need to remember all your chores, make a picture list of what you need to do. Put the list somewhere you can see it so that you will always remember what you need to do.
Recap what you need to study before you go to sleep.
Studying a little bit just before you go to bed can help you remember what you studied the next morning. Don’t study new topics, just review. This can help your brain to tuck away what you study, rather than lose it in Dreamland.
Study someplace that is like where you will take a test.
If you are going to take a test at a desk in school, study at a desk, as well. If it will be quiet when you take the test, study in quiet. If the teacher lets you listen to music during test taking, listen to music while you study.
Practice remembering a story.
Read a story with a parent or older sibling. Then have that person help you retell the story into a special computer program that writes down what you say. Now you can see what you remembered from the story and what you didn’t.
Featured image: Flickr user Sandy Roberts