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From the US Air Force Academy registrar

Memory Techniques

1. Organize - List facts in alphabetical or chronological order. Get a general idea of the textbook material, note the simple to complex and general to specific. Logical facts are easier to remember.

2. Make It Meaningful - Look for connections in what you are studying. For example, packing a parachute by itself can be boring, however, the excitement of jumping out of a plane gives a whole new meaning to this process. Focusing on the "Big Picture" helps provide meaning to the learning process and stimulates us to remember.

3. Create Associations - Associate something new with something you already know. This creates a building process in your memory bank. If you already know a Bill Smith think of the Bill you know and associate him with the new Bill Smith.

4. Learn It Actively - People remember 90 percent of what they do, 75 percent of what they see and 20 percent of what they hear. This saying is very accurate, as action is a proven memory enhancer. Move your hands, pace back and forth and use gestures as you recite a passage. If your body is actively involved it will help you to remember.

5. Relax - Eating proper foods, avoiding caffeine before an exam and getting proper exercise will help you relax and feel more confident. Relaxing will enhance your ability to recall facts faster, with more clarity, and you will feel better overall.

6. Create Pictures - Draw diagrams, make up cartoons. Use them to connect facts and illustrate relationships. When abstract concepts can be "seen" they are much easier to remember. You can be as creative as you want, as long as you understand your scribble.

7. Recite and Repeat - When you repeat something out loud you anchor the concept better by using two or more of your senses. Repetition is the "Mother" of learning. If you use more than one sense you create a "synergistic" effect which is powerful memory technique. If you recite out loud in your own words, memory is enhanced even more!

8. Write It Down - Writing notes to ourselves help us to remember. If we write down an idea or a passage several times, in different areas, we increase our chances to remember.

9. Reduce Interference - Find an area free from distractions. Studies show that most students study more effectively in a quiet area in 1 hour than in a noisy area in 2 hours.

10. Over-learn - When you think you got it don’t quit. Don’t miss a chance to review just one more time. Ever hear the expression "I beat that subject to death!" Do It!

11. Review Notes the Same Day - Studies prove that in order for us to store information "long term" it must be reviewed within 24 hrs. or less. By getting in the habit of same day review, we increase the chances of remembering by over 70 percent!

12. Use Daylight - This method is particularly effective for weekend study and review. Study the most difficult subjects during daylight hours. For many students the early morning hours can be especially productive and will stimulate the memory process.

13. Distribute Learning - Research suggest marathon study sessions (3 hrs. or more) are not as effective as light study sessions (1-2 hrs.) which are distributed at different times during the week. Take frequent breaks. Some students can study 50 minutes or more, others need to stop after 30 minutes. Try to distribute your length of study in the same rhythm as your classes (50/10/50). Give yourself rewards, you’ve earned it!

14. Keep a Positive Attitude - Studies prove that if you repeat to yourself negative feelings about a subject you increase your chances to fail! Since we all want to succeed, "Trash negative" and replace with "Positive Thoughts." For example, replace "I can’t do it" with "It’s not easy, but I am tough and I accept this challenge." Prove you can and you will! This is a self-fulfilling prophecy as attitude directly effects the memory!

15. Go On an "Information Diet" - Just as we avoid certain foods, we can choose what not to retain. Extract core concepts, study what you will be tested on, abbreviate large passages of information into easy to digest phrases, this will help you remember.

16. Combine Memory Techniques - All of the memory techniques work better when combined. You can over learn a formula, sing about a famous person, think positive thoughts about subjects, use sight, sound, and other methods to sharpen your memory.

17. Remember Something Else - When you are stuck and can’t remember, think of something related to the information. For example if you cannot remember a name, think about what the person did, what period they lived or who they associated with. Write down what you do know and soon it will trigger facts that you are trying to recall. This technique really works!

18. Note When You Don’t Remember - If you tried some memory techniques that do not seem to work, it’s all-right. Try an experiment with other techniques and use what is best for you and not what works for a classmate. Be a reporter, get the facts, find out what works and what doesn’t. Congratulate and reward yourself when you do remember.

19. Use It Before You Loose It - Information stored in the long-term memory may become difficult to recall if you don’t use it. Simply read it, write it, speak about it and/or apply it. This is especially effective when you have to recall formulas or facts from a previous course. The 101 course information may be used in a 102 course. Therefore, retain your notes, the old text, and keep the information fresh with a review.

20. Affirmation of Your Good Memory Helps You to Remember - When you are sharp and recall all the facts, accept compliments! When you do not recall the facts, think that you know it, you can remember, and the facts will come to you. You may have to use various techniques to help you remember but never give up! You truly "never forget." Those facts will eventually "come to you." Keep studying, try again and they will!