You’re 30 minutes into an exam and all seems to be going well. Suddenly, you come across a familiar question to which you cannot provide an answer. “Aarghh, I read this! How come I can’t remember?” Now you’re staring at the ceiling as you try to recall, but all to no avail. At the end of the exam, you check back into your notes only to find out that the answer was too easy to miss – yet you couldn’t recall – and worst of all, you picked the wrong answer!
I understand. I know how it feels when you find it hard to remember what you read for an exam. It’s always frustrating, nevertheless, there are actually proven to help you remember what you read. Before we dive into that, let’s take a look at why most students forget what they read.
Why do students forget what they read?
One of the major reasons why you, and perhaps a lot of other students, find it difficult to remember what you have read is because of an information overload which occurs when you try to do something very common – CRAM. To cram means to memorize a large amount of information within a short period of time. While this might work perfectly for a lot of people, it’s still not a healthy practice because when you try to fill your brain with so much information within a short time, it becomes difficult to recall any. So if you’re one of those students who crams for an exam, and end up forgetting a lot of what you crammed, then your solution isn’t far fetched. Stop cramming!
With that settled, let’s now take a look at a few healthy practices to help you remember what you read.
1. Start reading early:
Remember what I said about cramming earlier? Trying to “memorize a large amount of information within a short period of time.” As a smart student, you’d eventually resort to cramming when you realize that your exam is in a few weeks. Of course, you can’t afford to fail! Quite unfortunately, when you cram, you forget what you read!
See how it all boils down to starting to read as early as you can? When you start early, you’re able to plan ahead, and most importantly, you won’t have a lot of textbooks to gulp in at once. You’d also have a lot of time on your side, so there’d be no need to rush. The best time to start reading is as soon as classes resume. There really is no reason to wait!
2. Pick a suitable time to study:
Everyone should be able to read at any time of the day, but it’s best to read at a time when you’re most active and able to assimilate best. For some people, they study better during the day, while others study better at night. It would obviously not be effective for you to study at night when the suitable time for you to study is during the day. So you need to figure out what time of the day works best for you and ensure that you stick to it consistently.
3. Take notes:
People tend to forget 40% of what they study within the first 24 hours of hearing or reading it. However, taking notes helps to retain more information. When you’re in class and you’re listening to your teacher, make sure you’re taking notes of what is being taught. It helps you to identify important parts of the topic whenever you’re reading. Taking notes also helps to make information stick to the brain.
It’s always very difficult to recall information when you’re not focused. It’s almost impossible. Judging by our daily lives, can you remember a certain time you were talking to someone but they weren’t paying attention? Then at some point while you were talking they ask, “what did you say?”
Yes, it’s the same thing that happens when you’re studying while your mind is elsewhere. You’d be reading a textbook and suddenly when you come back into consciousness your brain asks you, “what did you say?” Then you have to go back to read from where your mind wandered off.
I believe that you can now see how much lack of focus has caused you? So what can you do? Make sure to put away everything that can distract you while you study – anything at all!. It could be your phone, your tv, or even your friends. It could even be your environment. While you study, also try to ensure that your mind isn’t wandering off. Set your mind on what you’re studying. If it works for you, you could include breaks at intervals which allows you to loosen up a bit.
I know it sounds weird, but yes, sleep actually helps you to retain information. So what happens when you sleep is that those things you have read sinks deeper into your memory because the body is calm and isn’t doing any much work.
Asides that, it’s important that you prioritize your health while you study. Research shows that as a student, your body needs an average of 8 hours of sleep daily. So do not let your studies deprive you of enough sleep. Besides, I’m sure you don’t want to be hit by a health challenge as you study. So give your body enough rest!
6. Hire a personal tutor:
I bet you must be wondering, “how exactly will a tutor help me retain information for my exam?”
Well, prepare to be shocked! Unlike your class teacher who cares for you, but has limited time to spend on you, your tutor can actually spend time with you and revise all that you were taught in class. Think of it as having your class teacher to yourself – in your home! You can ask questions, he can give you tests to help you prepare for your exams, correct your mistakes, and do so many other things that your class teacher might not be able to do!
Students who have personal tutors have been found to perform better than those who don’t. So if you’re really keen on remembering what you’ve studied, then you should consider hiring a tutor right away!
Like I already mentioned, it’s always very frustrating to get to the exam hall prepared, only to forget the answer to a simple question that you’re familiar with. It’s even more painful when you end up performing below standard in that examination. It would seem as though the hours you invested in studying was not worth it. But it’s great that we’ve been able to take a look at 5 healthy practices that can help you retain information. All you have to do is to put them to practice all five of them. I’m positive that you’d notice a difference!