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Top Ten Memory Tips

Memorization is a powerful learning aid. Despite our focus on higher order thinking skills, much of important learning is simply rote memorization. Foundational skills and content are important to build upon, but lack of long-term memory can provide a shaky foundation. As in much in life, practice makes perfect; however, effective and efficient practice certainly makes even more sense.

Not everyone has a photographic memory. However, everyone can improve his or her memory by using these tips gained from years of memory research.

1. People start forgetting immediately after learning. Tip: Practice what you’ve learned within the first 24 hours, before the forgetting cycle begins to take hold.

2. People remember events or information learned recently better than events or information learned long ago. Tip: Study what you need to remember right before you need to retrieve the memory.

3. People remember information best when that information is organized in a structured manner. Tip: Organize what you want to memorize into distinctly memorable patterns.

4. Different memory techniques are more useful for different items of information. Tip: Be flexible in practicing memorization techniques—not every technique works with every subject to be memorized.

5. People remember information spoken out loud, written down, or connected to visual imagery. Tip: Practice these!

6. People remember events and information that are made exciting, interesting, or even embarrassing. Tip: Personalize what you are trying to remember to keep things more memorable.

7. The better the information is originally learned, the greater degree will the information be retained. Tip: Make every attempt to learn things right the first time.

8. Key words prompt recall of larger amounts of information. Substituting concrete nouns that are similar to key words are effective in prompting memory. Tip: A good key word unlocks memories. Use concrete words or substitute visual objects for abstract ones.

9. Frequent recitation improves retention. Tip: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Practice. Practice. Practice. Then repeat.

10. Short study periods and small amounts of information divided by periods of rest produces better retention than cramming. Tip: Practice memorization a bit each day.

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