Don't Forget Your Memory Skills
Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.
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When you pack for college, you’re not likely to forget your favorite clothes, music and equipment. But if you’re like most students, you may forget the importance that memory skills play in your college career. The human brain can record and store infinite information, but if you want to retrieve this information you must build your recall skills. No matter how smart you are, learning is very dependent upon memory. Here are five memory techniques that have helped many college students succeed.
1. Make a commitment to remember. You must be motivated to succeed and have an intention to remember or else learning can’t take place. How is it that a cocktail waitress can remember the drinks ordered by each customer at many tables when new people keep being seated all evening? The waitress intends to remember until the customers leave. The waitress quickly forgets the old orders so she can pay attention to the new ones. In order to remember the information you learn in college (at least until you’ve passed tests on it), you must put forth the mental energy to focus on the information you want to learn and make sure you understand it in the first place. Once you’ve committed, visit http://www.mindtools.com/mnemeffc.html
2. Organize the information you want to learn. When taking notes you can cluster information in meaningful groups or categorize items by importance. Don’t rely on remembering information you’ve heard if you don’t write it down. Notetaking styles vary widely, so use whichever style you prefer. But you must take notes as an important step to remembering what you learn. To learn about three types of memory, visit http://ricci.wju.edu/arc/handouts/memory...
3. Recite aloud to help transfer important information from your short-term to your long-term memory. If a gorgeous young lady shouted out her phone number as her car sped away, an interested guy would probably say the number over and over repeatedly until he could scribble it on paper. This same skill can be employed to learn the facts and figures that will appear on your college exams. Recitation works because it actively involves not only your mind, but also your body as it strengthens the neural trace in your brain. Although designed for K-8th grade, this website is guaranteed to challenge your memory and knowledge of numbers, words, universe and culture at http://www.funbrain.com
4.Create mnemonic devices where you assign words, phrases, sentences or rhymes to difficult-to- remember principles or facts. This is how elementary children learn the notes on the lines in the treble clef: Every Good Boy Does Fine or HOMES for the five great lakes: Huron Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. Mnemonics serve us for the rest of our lives when we want to recall information such as how many days there are in a month:
Thirty days hath September, April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one, Except February alone.
Practice this technique by making up a sentence or rhyme that will help you remember the following classifications in the order they are used in biology: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. For a wide range of day-to-day techniques for remembering names and faces, visit http://www.markgiles.co.uk/index.html
5. Visualize what you want to remember by creating a story or situation around it. This method of using imagery is called loci from the Greek and Roman orators who wanted to memorize long speeches. To remember the planets in order create a story about each one and mentally tie it to the layout of your house, for example. Then take a mental walk through your house picking up each planet as you go along
These five techniques cannot work alone. They must be coupled with good notetaking, time management and selectivity. No one can remember everything, so you must be selective and learn to capture the key points of your lectures and reading in easy-to-read notes. Then you must plan your time wisely so that you can distribute your studying over time. By following these ideas you control what you remember insuring yourself a place among successful college students.