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Improving memory

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Published: 13 November 2020

Students studying

You’re learning a lot during your time at the University of Sunderland in London. Every class you attend, each reading you do, it’s all new information.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember everything you’re taking in. You might even be wondering how you can improve your memory so you can make the most out of your time with us.

Check out some of these tried and tested memory techniques. They’re all research-proven to enhance recall and increase retention.

1) Focus your attention

Being able to pay attention is one of the most important factors for moving information from your short- to long-term memory. Try studying in a distraction-free environment, avoiding television and music. If you’ve got children or noisy housemates, that can be difficult. Make sure you set aside specific time for you to be alone – ask your roommates to give you space or your partner to watch the kids.

2) Don’t cram

Cramming, or waiting until the last second and trying to learn everything you need to know in a short amount of time, is less effective than learning the same information over several sessions. Research shows that students who study regularly remember the material better than those who try to do it in one go.

3) Get organised

Studies have shown that our minds organise information in groups. You can use this to your advantage by structuring what you’re trying to learn. Try grouping similar ideas together through mindmaps to help visual wider concepts.

4) Use mnemonic devices

Mnemonic devices are memory tricks used to help you memorise information. For example, you could try associating a fact you need to remember with an object in your home. More common versions are rhymes that are easy to learn where each word stands for something else.

For example:

My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets

– take the first letter of each word and you get:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

(yes, we know Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, but you get the idea!)

5) Practice, practice, practice

To be able to remember information you need to put it into your long-term memory. One of the most effective methods is through something called ‘elaborative rehearsal’. An example of this would be to read the definition of a term, study it, then look up a more detailed explanation of what it means. Once you’ve repeated this a few times you’ll start to notice the information staying in your memory.

Everyone learns differently. Some people are better at remembering facts than others. But you can improve through practice.

We’d love to hear how you remember what you’re learning with us. Share your tips and tricks on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn using #WeAreSunLon.