The brain is the most amazing human organ and essentially controls everything in our bodies, from the processing of information to our movements and to the regulation of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies. It is also what we utilise the most when we are in school to listen in class, do our assignments and revise for our examinations. Here are some tips to improve your memory so that you can process and study better before your exams!
1. Exercise before an exam
Studies have shown that exercising actually increases your capacity for remembering and learning by boosting your memory and brain power. There has also been research conducted which reveal that twenty minutes of exercise before an exam can help improve performance. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, just a simple twenty-minute walk will do. Not only will you be able to do better for your exams, your overall fitness improves too!
2. Speak instead of just reading
Don’t try this in a crowded area! You might look a little crazy. However, studies have shown that you internalise more information when you repeat it to yourself instead of merely reading it. In fact, the best way to understand something is to teach it to someone else. If no one will listen to you teach, then perhaps simulate teaching with a class of stuffed toys!
3. Reward Yourself with a Treat
Set out small goals for yourself when studying and reward yourself with treats when you hit those targets. Maybe you could watch a 5 minute YouTube video every time you finish a chapter or have a cookie when you finish 2 chapters. This motivates you step by step to reach your final goal and enables you to memorise things more efficiently as there is an extrinsic motivation to push you on.
4. Create Mental Associations
Use connections and associations to memorise information. Connecting information helps you to better remember stuff as it will help you to retrieve information by following the links made. Remember things in order and create a hook that will enable you to dig up the contents that you need when required. It is almost like following the pebble trail that Hansel and Gretel made when they were brought into the woods.
5. Draw Diagrams
Draw diagrams when making notes to memorise information as diagrams enable you to visualise the content that you are studying. It is, after all, easier to memorise a picture than a thousand words. The diagrams also act as a hook that you can pull on to retrieve information during an exam. If the subject that you are studying for does not involve much visualising, use mind maps to map out the content and create links between what you have to memorise!
6. Take regular study breaks
Take regular study breaks to ensure that you do not overwork your brain. It is recommended that students take a break after 45-50 minutes of studying as any studying done after that period will be less effective due to our focus and concentration becoming slightly impaired. Taking regular breaks will enable our brain to better memorise information for more effective studying instead of trying to cram everything in hours and hours of non-stop studying.
7. Get sufficient sleep
Don’t stay up before an exam to do last minute studying! Your body needs its rest before the paper so that it can function well and so that you have sufficient energy during the exam. Your brain also continues to process and consolidate whatever you have studied when you sleep so a good night’s rest is beneficial for you! A lack of sleep might also result in a weakened body where you might fall sick so adequate rest is extremely important!
Review what you have been studying and repeat it in your head. This helps the brain to better learn it and improves the retention rate of whatever you have been trying to memorise as the practising and repetition encodes the information into your long-term memory.
Laughing engages various areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity so have a laugh during your breaks! Laughing also helps to lower stress levels as it leads to a decrease in the “stress hormone” cortisol. Hence, productivity and concentration will increase when learning and memorizing after laughing your stress off.
10. Eat a brain-boosting diet
Fuel up your brain with foods that boost your brain power! Load up on Omega-3 fatty acids which plan an important role in building up brain cells. Fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are great sources of Omega-3s but non-fish alternatives are also available! Try walnuts, spinach, broccoli and soybeans! Don’t forget to load up on the antioxidants by eating berries and drinking green tea! Antioxidants protect your brain cells from damage and slow ageing.
Don’t forget to take care of your brain and treat it well! All the best in memorising!