Meaningful Memories

Sticking Points

Do you find yourself unable to recall important facts you’ve studied for school or work? Richard Palmer says that’s because “You have never truly concentrated on them.”

In his book Brain Train: Studying for Success, Palmer explains, “if you want something to stick, you’ve first got to ‘glue’ your mind to it. Just staring at it time and again is not likely to be very efficient. It can work, but it’s more probable that the information will skate across the surface and disappear. Writing it down is much better. For a start, more of your brain will be directly involved, because it will have to work your hand as well as absorb the visual material. Make sure, though, that you focus on what you write, otherwise the memory will vanish.

Palmer goes on to say, “if you can, make a game out of the information. It’s easier to remember a historical date if you can find a way to make the figure mean something else as well.” Learn how to create a “puzzle code” to remember a date and tips for personalizing information to “make it yours” in Palmer’s chapter on Memory.

Studying when you’re at your most effective, suggest Lauren Williams and John Germov in Surviving First Year Uni. And “be realistic about what you will achieve in a day. It’s better to get a few hours of quality study in, then leave it and go and do something else rather than waste a whole day being unproductive.”

Gabriella Boston’s Washington Times article Learning How to Study offers these recommendations from The Academic Support Center of American University:  “Make certain you understand the material. When material is more meaningful, it is easier to understand. Then try to organize the material by grouping facts and ideas in a way that makes sense to you.” And also, “Use your own words: When studying, make notes on the material in your own words. You will be required to do this during exams, so learning to formulate important concepts from the start can be very helpful.”

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