Test-Taking Memory Techniques

Being prepared is essential when getting ready for a test. You can’t cram into one night what you should have been learning all along. Besides, it won’t stick longer than a few hours so what you stayed up all night to put into your memory will be gone by the time you take the test. Studying should be a matter of review and practice, practice, practice.

Taking tests is stressful. Many people put so much pressure on themselves to do well on them that they “blank out” and forget everything they have learned. Stress is a real memory buster. These people have memorized the material backward and forward, and have prepared well in advance and still freeze when it comes to taking the actual test. have a difficult time getting through them because they are putting so much pressure on themselves to do well.

Keeping something in your memory is just as much about careful planning and self-confidence — along with de-stressing exercises, as it is about learning the material. Stress puts roadblocks up that even the most prepared person can’t get past.

The most basic rules you must remember in preparing to take any test (after learning how to breathe and take some of the stress away) is that no matter whether it’s just a quick quiz or the SAT, you can be prepared by first:

  • Pay attention in class and to instructions
  • Take good notes and refer to them often
  • Get enough sleep, exercise and eat a balanced diet — full of a lot of brain food.
  • Take advantage of any help you can get through memory techniques, practice lessons and memory aids

Here are five additional memory improvement techniques that should help you be totally prepared for any test:

1.           Relate the material to something you know. When going through material that is unfamiliar to you, try to relate it to something you already know. Find common ground between what you are learning and what you already know. Association will greatly increase your chances of placing the material in your long-term memory.

2.           Use visualize cues. The majority of people learn better by visualization. Looking at a photo, graphs or charts — or putting an image in your head, will help you to retain what you have learned.   You can make the visual cues up yourself, by drawing your own charts, highlighting what you want to go back over, or put a picture of what you want to learn into your mind.

3.           Have a study-buddy. Working with someone else and going over the material together helps to remember it. If you have a question they can help you find the answer, and vice versa. You can also teach someone else, which reinforces it in your mind. Remember, if you can teach it you understand it. Research has shown that working with someone else, by reading the material out loud or bouncing questions off each other, it helps to improve memory and solidify the information in your head.

4.           Linger over difficult information. Concepts that seem to be especially difficult to understand need more time, so linger over this section and continue to go back until you are completely familiar with it. Once you totally get it, put it into your own words in order to solidify it in your memory.

5.           Get out of your normal routine. Once in a while monotony can make studying boring, so move around and change your study site. Monotony leads to dozing off, and when you do that you can’t take what you are learning and put it into long-term memory. If you are used to studying in your room, take your work outside and get some fresh air. If you usually study in the evening, take some time in the morning to review. Adding novelty to your routine keeps it fresh and increases the effectiveness.

I know what I am talking about when it comes to studying and memorizing. I want to help you to improve your study skills and help you get through your test anxiety through proper memory coaching.   If you would like to learn more about how to improve your memory I would suggest my Memory in a Month CD that is full of hundreds of memory techniques to help you get through any test.

From the desk of Ron White

Memory Training


About.com — Improving Memory — Top 10 Memory Improvement Tips, By  Kendra Cherry: http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/tp/memory_tips.htm

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