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How to Remember what you Study?

by Chetna Vasishth


This article will discuss the 5 Best Scientific Techniques to Remember what you study and some top tips to remember and memorize difficult content 100%

And let’s jump right into the techniques. I like to call these techniques ‘My Very Sweet and Sexy Friends’

Technique # 1 – Method of Loci / Memory palace / Mind palace

This technique is used by sherlock Holmes and also by memory performers on stage. I will give you the secret of their trick right now.

First they pick a route that they follow every day and memorize it. This could be a pathway within or outside their house. Next, try to remember details in each room or space.

Let’s imagine Sherlock’s room in sequence :

He enters through the door and then turning right. The first object he pass by is an armchair, so let’s  choose this as starting point. Second is a brown bamboo shelf – our second location. Till we get to 10 locations that he uses as follows

  1. Armchair
  2. Bamboo shelf
  3. Bedside table
  4. Bed
  5. Blue standing fan
  6. Desk with printer on it
  7. Small table
  8. Dresser with mirror.
  9. TV table with TV
  10. Wardrobe

This gives him 10 hooks to file 10 items.

Tips:

  • Mentally walk through your journey a couple of times to make sure you always use the same locations in the same order.
  • Use vivid and specific imagery to help recollect.

 Now Sherlock Holmes walks into an investigation:

Let’s say that Sherlock Holmes meets the suspect and he is wearing an expensive suit. Now, he pictures a very expensive suit lying on his armchair. He tries to sit on the chair but is afraid of crumpling the suit because it is very expensive

The second thing he finds out is that the man is a horse rider. His second location is the brown bamboo shelf, and he imagines a huge and dangerous looking horse coming and crashing into the shelf and breaking it into million pieces.

The third piece of information available to him is that the man went to an expensive public school and his next location is his bedside table and he visualizes his school diary and tie lying on the bedside table. He imagines the colours of the tie, the exact shape and size of his favourite school diary

Then he spots a broken steel jug and imagines someone hitting the blue fan violently with the steel jug, bhum bhum bhum and breaking the jug.

The more grotesque the pictures are, the more likely you are to remember. Do this for difficult concepts that do not fit in with mnemonics and flash cards.

Technique # 2 – Visualise and make a story,

Make a movie of the concept in your mind

Let’s try to remember the first 10 elements of the periodic table using visualisation techniques. We can use this technique to learn the elements of a periodic table, which I have explained in a later article

For this technique, think in pictures. Imagine yourself participating in the events described Exaggerate the story by adding violence, greatness, or anything to shock yourself.

Technique #3 – Sensory Association

Have you noticed how when you eat a particular food, or smell a particular perfume, a certain memory gets triggered of a person or an event. And often times you will remember that person or incident in great detail. In order to fully use this ability, we could try having an alternate sensory experience along with studying, which you can call upon to help you remember your material during the exam.

Now let’s go back to the three types of learners we discussed in the previous video

  1. Auditory – listen to the same song on repeat while learning a particular topic and sometimes during the exam when you recall the song, some random bits of information about that topic will suddenly come into your brain by association
  2. Visual – Try to remember the book where you read the information, the location on the page, if there was a picture next to it. Or draw a particular image next to that information.
  3. Kinaesthetic learners – can walk around a particular spot back and forth, or play with your football on your feet, and this will help you

Other forms of association include – linking the material to something you already know. For example, maybe one of the character’s names sounds like your friend’s name. Or the war started on your birthday. In school I always got confused between stalactites and stalagmites found in a cave. But associating stalactites with a phrase ‘hold on tight’ helped me remember that stalactites were icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave

 

Technique No. 4 – Spaced Repetition

This technique is useful for long lists

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve states that retention of learnt material dramatically reduces after the first 24 hours.

The speed of forgetting depends on

  • the difficulty of learned material,
  • how meaningful it is,
  • its representation, and
  • physiological factors like stress and sleep.

Spaced repetition is a technique where spacing out sessions over time helps in active recall of the information. It moves the information from short term memory (which gets purged regularly) to long term memory.

When you learn something new

  1. repeat a new concept after 15-20 mins,
  2. then after 6-8 hours and
  3. next after 24 hours.

But if you want to remember things for a long period then

  1. Repeat a new concept after 20-30 minutes,
  2. then after 2-3 days and
  3. then after 2 to 3 weeks and
  4. finally, after 2 to 3 months

And if you want to acquire a skill for life – practice something for 15 minutes every day and see the results after one week.

This way you will put in less actual study time but achieve a greater result.

Technique #5 Feynman Technique (Fineman)

There is a well-known quote that if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough. Richard Feynman was an American Physicist who won a Nobel Prize for quantum electrodynamics. And he was also called the ‘great explainer’, because he was able to boil down the most complicated concept in an intuitively simple manner.

First let’s understand this technique and then test it out with an example

Step 1 – Write the concept on the top of the page

Step 2 – Explain and give examples in an easy manner –

Step 3 – identify areas where you were shaky, or where you got stuck and go back to the source material –

Step 4 – Pinpoint any complicated technical terms, or jargon that you used and challenge yourself to simplify those terms in simple language or by using a simple analogy.  Elon Musk calls this ‘thinking from first principles. One tip is to think of, how can I explain it to a kid.

So, let’s take an example of Osmosis. A simple definition is ‘the movement of solvent particles from an area of low concentration to an area of higher concentration across a semi permeable membrane’.

I sometimes get confused – less concentration means less solvent or less solute? What does semi permeable or selectively permeable actually mean

So, I like to think of it as my own kind of football match – and in my match there is a net in between (selectively permeable membrane). The home team (water molecules) can go across the net easily from one side to another. The net belongs to the home team, so it always allows the players to move freely in any direction.

And then the opposition arrives, and they are big burly players (big salt molecules). And they enter the field from one side. Now, the net will not allow them access, so they are all stuck on one side of the field. Immediately, the home team players run through the net and rush to this side to add to the forces and counter the opposition. Of course, some of them will stay back to protect this side.

So bingo, this is called Osmosis. Now, we can keep adding details to this story to include more and more elements of the concept as we learn them, till we have a perfect analogy to teach a small child and to answer all their ‘why’s’

 

5 Top tips to help you remember

  1. Understand – Try to understand what you learn – Consider the ramifications or implications of the content – just memorize some details

 

  1. Serial Position Effect – when you are learning something the beginning and end points are always remembered better. So, sort the information to use this to your advantage

 

  1. Interference theory – Read in short segments. Learn for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Take a 10-minute break and come back to it, switch to something completely different, like playing the guitar or watching a ChetChat video. Avoid learning similar things very close together.

 

  1. Using mnemonics, flash cards, and active learning methods like using diagrams, tables etc. which you can go back and watch in our previous video on 10 best scientific study tips video,

 

  1. Record some important pieces and listen to them over and over when you travel – this is effective because it involves three senses, first you read it, then you spoke it and lastly you heard it

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Best Time Table for Studies Before an Exam

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