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RYERSON UNIVERSITY LEARNING SUPPORT SERVICES

Improving Your Memory Through Effective Learning KEY PRINCIPLE: The best way to remember something is to learn it thoroughly. 1. You won’t be able to learn all the information for each course, so be selective by focussing on what is most important to learn.  The topics in the course outline show you the major focus of the course.  Learning objectives, headings, graphics, and chapter summaries show you what is important in the text.  The professor’s verbal clues (examples, repetition of key ideas, hints like “Remember this”) and nonverbal clues (gestures, tone of voice and visual aids) show you what is important in lectures. 2. Prepare for class so that you can more easily learn the new material. You can prepare by  keeping a positive attitude that you want to learn  looking at the outline to see what will be covered  reviewing notes from the previous class  doing any assigned reading 3. Work to understand new material.  Go to all classes, pay attention to the lecture, and take notes.  Apply the material by doing all homework assignments and practice exercises.  If you are having problems understanding the material because you are underprepared for the course, review important concepts from earlier courses or get a tutor to review the basics..  Group/organize ideas in ways that are meaningful to you. For example, try to see patterns such as causes and effects or steps in a process, use memory devices such as acronyms (Roy G. Biv for the colours of the rainbow or HOMES for the Great Lakes), or put lists in alphabetical order.  Try to connect new material to previous knowledge. Ask “Is this idea similar to something I already know? Is there already a place in my brain where I can file this information?” 4. Reinforce learning through repetition. Reinforce material as many times as you need for the length of time you need.  Review notes as soon as possible after class and frequently thereafter.  Write summaries or make “cheat sheets” of important information such as formulae, definitions, or time lines.  Use flash cards to review material you need to memorize.  For quantitative courses, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE solving problems.

If you use the above strategies. Deeper thinking equals more meaningful learning. and problem solving. You can’t learn or remember if you’re not well.  Make up test questions and write the mock exam under timed conditions.  Get enough sleep. In short.  Your brain needs time to absorb information. or joining a study group to discuss material with and teach others. you remember best what you most fully understand. If the material is particularly difficult. charts.  “Experience” material by moving about the room while studying or reviewing information while going for a walk or exercising. you could study in 20 minute sessions with a short break between each.  See material by using pictures. You could study for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. four two-hour sessions spread over several days are more effective than one massive eight-hour session. talking through math problems.  Take short breaks between sessions. Use different senses when reviewing.  Eat a balanced diet.  See the handout “Using Questions to Test Your Understanding” for a list of the types of questions you can ask. . For instance. 6. synthesis.  Hear and say material by reading notes from texts and lectures out loud. which in turn leads to better retention. and visualizations (such as “mental movies” with colour and action). 8. diagrams.5. you will gain a sense of control over your learning and will be able to move beyond mere rote memorization to master such higher-order thinking skills as analysis. Find or create questions to test your understanding. Take care of yourself.  Get sufficient exercise. 7. Distribute reviews over shorter study sessions.