Want to know how to remember better when studying? Then you’re in the right place.
Salomon Szereszewski was able to remember everything. At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists studied his mind, testing this Russian journalist.
They showed him series of letters and numbers. If he could spend three or four seconds visualising them (as he called imagining them as colourful images), he remembered them easily.
One day, one researcher gave him a list of 30 sign sets to read. After a while, Szereszewski repeated them from memory. Then the researcher put the list into the box and forgot about it for 15 years.
After this time, he found his extraordinary friend and once again asked him to repeat the list. Szereszewski repeated all the letters and numbers without mistake.
Good memory is a dream not only for students during the exams, it allows learning foreign languages easier and collecting better prizes playing poker. Tony Buzan a world-renowned expert in the field of learning and memory, argues to those making excuses due to their short memory: it is like a muscle , you have to practice it.
You can do that using the methods that Salomon Szereszewski used, and those used today by mnemonists – masters in remembering.
How To Remember Better When Studying
Unlike Szereszewski, most of us quickly forget the information we remember. In the first hour we lose up to half of what we’ve learned, which was proved by Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist.
His calculations also show that after a few days we remember only 25 percent, and after a month —20%, Fortunately there is a simple way for memorising – repetition.
How does it help?
Neurons can strengthen synapses or create new connections between themselves. Every time we repeat information or action, we strengthen the neuronal path. And it’s easier for the information to arrive on the beaten paths.
2. Play Video Games
Computer games allow us to excersise memory. They can strengthen neural connections in the prefrontal lobe, which improves short-term memory and operational. You can find many websites with memory development via neurotraining.
It has been calculated, that thanks to the exercises it’s possible to increase ability to process and assimilate new data by 130%.
3. Tune in
Good mood cannot be overestimated in many life situations, but not necessarily when we try to remember something. It turns out that we absorb knowledge better when we are sad – at least it results from the research of PhD.
Justin Storbeck from Queens College, who is interested not only in memory, but also in music. He invited students to the experiment and divided them into three groups: the first listened to the melancholic Gustaw Mahler, the second – to much more uplifting Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the third to sit in silence for some time.
Then everyone was asked to remember the words from the list presented earlierm and note them down. Mahler’s listeners did this exercise best.
Unpleasant sensations also improve our memory, for example those caused by contact with icy water. Psychologists from the University of Trier in Germany asked 50 people to dip their forearm in very cold water.
A second group of fifty people were more lucky, and their hands were soaked in warm water. Cold water increased all participants’ pulse and blood pressure, and for some it also increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
When everyone had dried up, they were given a list of words with different emotional tones to remember. It was also checked, how much of the respondents remember from this list after an hour, and how much after a day.
For all, the words with a clear positive or negative overtones stuck in their memory (it is worth to remember that emotionally charged information help with remembering) But those who had the misfortune of holding their hand in icy water, went well with remembering even the neutral words.
After all, what we need to remember for the exam is rarely emotionally charged for us…
4. Take a break
Sitting for hours over the book when we try to remember something is not the best solution. It is definitely wiser to take breaks – but the point is, that the breaks should not be longer than periods of study.
According to experts on the process of learning, the idea proportion in this case is 5:1, which is fifty minutes of learning and ten minute breaks. When planning to learn, it’s also worth knowing, that it’s easiest to remember information from the beginning, and at the end of the learning material (these phenomena are called the priority effect and the effect of freshness).
5. Create stories
“The human brain remembers pictures better than words” says Nishant Kasibhatla, the world champion in remembering (his achievements include remembering the number of 1944 digits, as well as the order of cards in a shuffled deck and within a minute and 50 seconds).
We know this from everyday experience: most of us remember better faces than the names of newly acquainted people.
Kasibhatla, like Szereszewski, remembers lots of information thanks to visualization, which means imagining concepts, people or situations in the form of images. Ideally, these images should be full of emotions, sensual, funny and … colourful.
It has been proved experimentally, that we remember what we saw on colourful photographs longer, than what we saw on black and white pictures. One of the basic techniques, practiced in effective learning courses is the chain method of associations.
It is based on the assumption that in order to best remember some information, it should be changed into an images, actions, and emotions, for example by imagining a shopping list as something like the next episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.
It is good to exaggerate, fantasize, to use comedic elements, and above all, you should make yourself the hero of this film. Let’s say we buy carrots, chicken, potatoes, mayonnaise, lettuce and toilet paper.
To remember this, we create such a story: “you are climbing a steep wall. You are out of breath, but eventually you reach the top. There, you can see that you are standing on the top of a giant carrot and suddenly a purple-green chicken carries you in its beak, above a vast field of potatoes.
Then the sky is clouded, it gets dark, and a heavy downpour breaks away. Huge drops of mayonnaise are falling down, chicken releases you from the beak, and fall on a big leaf of lettuce. The rain stops, it slowly getting sunny, than someone spreads a rainbow of toilet paper on the sky”.
A story, that you can create!
6. Encrypt Information
Remembering dates is facilitated by the method called tabbing. It is a type of code, in which each digit is assigned an image – a symbol. To facilitate the task, you can use associations, e.g. one – candle, two – swan, four – chair. These symbols need to be well inserted in your head.
To remember the date, you must build stories using pre-arranged imagination symbols.
7. Build memory palaces
Salomon Szereszewski was a synesthetic – his senses were tangled. “Each sound that reached him had its own colour, texture, and sometimes even taste (… j. Some words were “white and smooth” and others “orange and as sharp as arrows” – writes Joshua Foer in the book “Moonwalking with Einstein. The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.”
Numbers also didn’t appear for him as mathematical symbols only: number one was seen as someone proud, and eight as a very stout woman. As a result, Szereszewski’s mind was filled with colorful, expressive images.
There were so many of them, that he was overwhelmed, and felt that he had to sort them. To do this, he arranged them in his imagination in places well known by him – the streets of Moscow and In the apartments he often visited.
One image he left in the corridor by the mirror, another on the hanger, and another on the table room chair. Walking there inside his mind, he was recollecting what he had seen or heard.
In this way, intuitively, he applied ancient technique of memorization, called the palace of memory or the travel method.
They were invented by the Greeks, and described in roman rhetoric textbooks used, among others, by Cicero. Speakers in the antiquity weren’t for sure reading from the scroll or the piece of paper – they showed off their rhetorical excellence from memory.
For this reason, the art of remembering – ars memorativa – has been perfected.
Today, thanks to ancient techniques, it is easy to remember the presentation, public speech or names of all thirty colleagues from the new class (Themistocles, an Athenian politician, remembered this way the names of 20,000 of his compatriots).
Thank you for reading this article about how to remember better when studying and I really hope that you take action my advice.
I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.