Revision tips and how to improve your memory

Revision tips and how to improve your memory

Do you ever wish you could retain all the information you read more effectively — particularly when it comes to revising for exams?

Here are 10 practical tips that will help get your brain in tip top working order and will boost your memory. A few simple lifestyle changes and some tried and tested study techniques could make all the difference to the exam grades you achieve.

The power of your memory and the ability to recall information is a skill that can be nurtured and it is well worth pursuing as it can bring many benefits throughout your life.

Your memory

We have a short-term and a long-term memory which are used for different reasons by our brain. Short-term memory is important for day-to-day activities such as remembering where you put your phone, or where you parked your car. Your brain discards this information regularly as there is no need to retain it once it has been used. Long-term memory, however, shapes who you are as a person because it gives you a unique identity and allows you to absorb, process and store knowledge that can be retained for regular use over a long period of time.

Many of our memories happen subconsciously but we can control our memory to some degree with a little bit of training and effort. You can work on developing habits and skills that will give you a sharper mind and more power to retain information.

Quality of life

The brain is a complex organ and needs to be exercised, just as your heart and lungs are improved through cardio fitness. If your brain health is good then the quality of your life will be improved. Lifestyle choices do play a major part in how good you are at recalling information, so it is worth assessing your daily or weekly habits — as these can either promote or hinder brain health and memory function.

Top 10 tips

1. Good quality sleep

A restful night’s sleep will help you to remember information. Studies have proved that sleep helps to consolidate memories and that Stage 3 sleep, also known as slow wave or deep sleep, is essential for improving memory retention.

2. More exercise

Brain health is improved with exercise — particularly the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory function. Studies have shown that these important parts of the brain are larger in volume in individuals who do regular moderate-intensity exercise than those who don’t.

3. Stress-busting

Stress will have a negative impact on our memory so we need to do everything we can to de-stress. Take some time out, if you can, during the day to rest and relax. Try yoga, breathing exercises or going for a walk to manage your stress levels. Sleep also plays an important part in lowering stress.

4. Activate your brain

Use puzzles, cards or online games as a fun way to keep your brain activated and improve your memory. Developing interests and challenging yourself to learn something new, such as the words to a poem or song, or a dance routine, will also help increase brain activity.

5. Hydrate with water

Hydration is critical for your brain to work at its best so ensure you are drinking enough water each day. This helps to transport nutrients and bring more oxygen to the brain. On average you should aim to drink at least 15 cups of water each day.

6. Recall and repetition

Recall is key when it comes to your brain being able to store information. Revision can be more effective for some people with the use of a set of repetitive flashcards which can help you absorb the information faster when you go through them multiple times. You can also use Post-it notes to stick all around your study area so you take in the information many times.

7. Use mnemonics

Remembering lyrics to songs seems to come easy — and that’s because songs are one example of a mnemonic device. Other mnemonics that can help you to memorise content are acronyms and chunking. Chunking is taking longer forms of information and breaking them down into smaller, manageable groups or ‘chunks’ that can then be memorised more easily. Another way to remember new information is by building a memory palace — a mnemonic device that associates information with familiar locations or landmarks.

8. Study sessions

Spaced repetition has been shown to improve retention rather than trying to cram everything in to single long periods of revision. Spacing out your study sessions over time could help. This technique involves reviewing material at gradually increasing intervals to reinforce learning and retention.

9. Technology tools

There are many ways to use technology to help boost your memory and these can be accessed direct from your phone or tablet. From brain training games, apps and quizzes to flashcards that you can build online, technology is definitely a tool worth exploring to see what suits your brain.

10. List it

Many people find that writing things down helps them to remember better. There are different strategies, such as spider drawings or bubble pictures, but most find a list is the best way to recall information — whether that’s for shopping, general to-do tasks or revision notes. Bullet points are often easier to absorb, process and retain.