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Make the Grade with These Memory Tricks and Tips

College and University Blog - Resources, help, and insight for your college experience

No two college students learn in exactly the same way. Take a look around the room during your next lecture session -– every person sitting around you has their own unique strengths and weaknesses as students. Some excel at writing and research-related tasks, while others get ahead by putting their top-notch studying and note-taking skills to good use.

But no matter which type of learning skill you’re best at, you won’t be able to pass your college classes without doing well on tests. And when you get right down to it, it’s your ability to remember names, dates, and other important details that will determine whether you’ll be able to perform on tests in college. Memory is a bigger part of college success than most students realize.

If you’re the type of person who is constantly losing your car keys and forgetting where you put your backpack, don’t despair. The good news is that memory can be improved. Just as if it were a muscle, you can exercise and strengthen your capacity to remember all those pesky little details that can really come in handy during college exams. Use these tips to start boosting your memory power today.

Use memory tricks that play on your unique learning style. There are a million different memorization techniques out there, but not all of them are equally effective for each student. Make use of the tips and tricks that resonate with you – if you’re a visual learner, use charts and graphs to memorize material. If you’re an auditory learner, use mnemonic devices or make associations with “pegwords.” If you try to force yourself to use a memorization technique that doesn’t fit your learning style, you’re probably going to just end up wasting your time.

Rely on repetition to make the information stick. When it comes to memorization, nothing works better than good old-fashioned repetition. Experts say that repeating information five to seven times is usually good enough to form a foundation for long-term learning. If the material is difficult or you have a lot to cover, increase the number of repetitions until you get it down pat.

Learn information in bite-size chunks. Memory experts warn that you shouldn’t try to memorize vast amounts of data all at once. Instead, break the information you need to know down into smaller units that make sense to you. Most experts recommend working with “chunks” of no more than seven to eight pieces of information for maximum effectiveness – it turns out the human brain isn’t equipped to handle much more than that at one time.

Review your materials every day. No matter how much time you invest in memorizing information, it’s likely to slip away if you don’t refresh your memory on a regular basis. Once you’ve done the “heavy lifting” of memorizing information for a test, make sure you revisit the material once a day or so to make sure it stays fresh in your mind.

Gradually increase the amount of information you memorize at one time. If you’re the forgetful type, it may take time for your memory capacity to expand — but memory experts say it will happen if you work at it consistently. Over time, begin challenging yourself to remember more information at one time. Before you know it, you’ll be acing all of your tests and keeping track of your car keys, to boot!

Is your memory like a steel trap, or more like Swiss cheese? Have any horror stories about your forgetfulness? Tell all in the comments.


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Lana about 4 years ago Lana


Great information. Especially the guideline for repeating and the advice on how much material one's brain can hold. Most of us try to memorize too much at one time. That's probably due to time management. When we don't look at the material we've studied until the day before a test we try to cram it all in at one time. Thank you for the information.

New York University about 9 years ago New York University


Easy and practical tricks and tips that could be followed by evetryone

caitlin over 9 years ago caitlin


that was really helpful. thanks could you help me with some more advice to achieve sat test?