February 4th, 2011
For some online students, reading a textbook from cover to cover is useless—the material just doesn't stick. If you happen to be this type, it could be that you are just not utilizing all of the proper retention tricks and techniques. To learn how to improve your studying and memorization skills continue reading.
Before any of the tricks are revealed, it's highly important that you understand that "cramming" for a test is not the way to go. Holding off reviewing vital studying materials until the day before the test will not only guarantee increased levels of stress and anxiety, but it will also be harder for you to retain information. So don't wait until the last minute to start studying. Tests are scheduled so far and in between because professors expect you to use all that extra time to study. So each day do your assignments and review your notes to prevent yourself from getting into an unfortunate predicament come test time. The following memorization techniques will boost your normal studying habits, but will not perform miracles if you wait to study until the night before.
With that said, the first (and probably the most recognized memorization technique) is using mnemonic devices. A mnemonic device is taking specific studying material and transforming it into a song, rhyme, or joke in order to help you remember. By far the most famous example is "In Fourteen-hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." What makes this technique really special is that you will be studying overtime—you in a sense "study" trying to formulate the material into a creative outlet and then memorizing the poem or song, for example, is studying as well. Another option, if being too creative seems challenging, is to associate the material with something personal or meaningful to you, like a memory for example. Researchers have proven that this substantially increases memorization and test scores.
Another way to increase retention is to use visual aids such as charts and graphs. If these types of aids are present in your textbook pay very close attention to them; if they are not, then make your own. Sometimes our minds are better at remembering images and colors than they are words. On a similar note, when reviewing notes or reading sections in a textbook, it's probably best to highlight important information using highlighters and multi-colored pens.
Lastly, and probably one of the easier techniques, is to grab a study buddy. In a traditional sense a study buddy quizzes you to check for comprehension of the material. But a more effective way will be to "re-teach" your study buddy the information in your own words. Explaining it to someone else (or hearing someone else explain it to you that is not your professor) will help you understand and keep that vital information stored in your brain.