How to Improve Memory for Studying  

Examination dates are around the corner. And, you know how many nights you opted to burn the midnight oil. More than ever before, you are ready to ace the exams. Still, what happens when you can’t seem to remember some of the concepts that were at your fingertips a few weeks ago? Do you panic and go back to the piles of books at the library? Or, do you get smart and come up with a way to remember what you studied?

Well, it is a fact. You can improve your memory for studying by keeping your thoughts in an organized way. After all, we remember things according to the way our brain stores each event. Hence, we have our memories in a particular sequence. Then, one idea or notion will be the link to opening up other concepts we learned years back. So, how do you go about it? Here are some quick tips: –

Association Works

Image of a beautiful place

That’s correct. We always associate things in our lives with a particular feeling or event. For example, what comes to mind when you see anything highlighted in red? Does it bring a sense of danger, hotness, or some form of urgency? In the same way, we can use some smart numbers or visual clues to help us remember. Here is an example: –

Which is the best way to remember the names of the past presidents of the United States of America? Why not use a picture of a place, animal, or toy that starts with the same letters as those names? Then, anytime you see the photo, it will excite your memory to associate it with the president.

The Method of Loci

Do you know of the Method of Loci? It is a trick or a mnemonic device that can help us retrieve information from our memories. Here, you create some visual mental images. Then, you associate it with whatever thought or idea that you want to remember.

For example, suppose you have to do a class presentation as part of your final exam. How do you ensure you present all the facts that you gathered during your research? It is possible to remember without referring to some hidden notes.

Create a visual location with a beginning, middle, and ending. Then, practice your presentation using this visible location that you created. So, every time you see the door, it will symbolize the beginning of your points. You’ll know you have to retrieve the next concept. And, if the entry has an acronym to it, it will help you remember the idea faster. Then, past this door are other visual images that unlock your memory even further.

Note that, for the method of Loci to be effective, the visual images must be as vivid as possible. Then, practice associating these images with what you want to remember.

Stay Organized A well organized desk

Yes. It is not only about keeping our thoughts in a particular sequence. You have to study in an organized way, starting with your study space. Look around your study area. How established is it?

Are you the type of person that piles lots of books on the table and leaves your computer on with lots of files open? Do you fall asleep while studying, only to pick up the next day without rearranging your desk? This style of studying distorts our brain’s way of organizing our memory.

Too much clutter on the outside will reflect in your memory pattern. Hence, start by de-cluttering your desk. Then, remove any study materials, phone, or other gadgets that tend to distract you when you study. Create a serene study environment where you can hear your inner voice as you grasp the concepts.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

How did you get to memorize your favorite song? By listening to it over and over again, right? And, how did you know how to type without looking at the keyboard? It is only through constant practice. In the same way, if you want to improve your memory, listen to that audiobook as many times as possible. Likewise, when you have a speed drill coming up, practice on your speed. Repeat listening and doing what you want to remember works. It will make your thoughts to flow during the examination.

Change Your Study Locations

Image of a lady at a study location


If you always study at the library, why not decide to be reviewing each subject at a different location? It could be at the park, study room, or the basement. Hence, it makes it easy to recall what you were looking at in a particular location. For, each new spot makes the information you read stand out.

Exercise Your Brain

Image of a foreign language

There are many brain exercises that you can use to boost your memory for studying. Here is a quick list:-

  1. Carry out an arithmetic calculation from your brain. Avoid using a calculator, pen, paper, or pencil. Once you master this exercise, do the next math question while walking, cooking, or eating. It may seem like a simple exercise, but mental math keeps our brains in fine form always. By looking at a sequence, you can figure out what comes next because your brain ‘muscles’ expect it.
  2. Form word pictures. Again, our minds recognize words as pictures, and not by their meaning. So, visualize the way you spell the words. Then, think of more words that either start or end with similar spellings.
  3. Learn a foreign language. Did you know that practicing for a rich vocabulary helps you fight cognitive decline? Yes. We improve our ability to hold on to our memories by increasing our vocabulary knowledge. Then, use this opportunity to learn new vocabularies, but of a foreign language.
  4. Improve your fine motor skills. It’s a fact; motor practice has a positive impact on our cognitive abilities. That is, when we practice our hand to eye movements, it helps to improve our memory. More so, a decline in fine motor skills is one of the symptoms associated with a cognitive disorder. Hence, take up a new hobby like painting, drawing, or solving puzzles.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Do you have a regular exercising routine? If not, you should start. You know, we can help our brain to focus on what we understand by taking a simple brisk walk. For, a walk in the park is a deserved break from long hours of studying. Plus, it is a breather that lets you get in touch with nature.

Second, eat a healthy diet. Nuts, fatty fish, coffee, broccoli, and dark chocolate are some of the foods that boost our memory. Hence, include such foods in your daily diet. In contrast, avoid sugary drinks, refined carbs, meals high in trans-fats, over-processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.

Third, get enough rest and sleep. An exhausted mind will struggle to remember even the simplest of things. Sleep for at least eight hours each night. And, give yourself at least a day’s rest before the examination day.

Final Note

When you have so much to study and little time left before the final exam, you ought to study smart. Do this by practicing how to improve your memory. Activities that associate visual images with what you want to remember will provoke your mind to recall faster. Take good care of your body and mind using both physical and brain exercises. And always repeat what you learned until it comes to memory almost automatically. For, our brains act like muscles that need to stay fit at all times.