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Monday, August 11, 2014

3 Life-Changing Memorization Secrets


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Memorizing is easy. Yes. I know you probably find that pretty hard to believe (that is, if you haven't been reading my blog regularly. Shame on you.) While most students find memorization painful and difficult, it doesn't have to be. In fact, the fact that you find memorization painful and difficult is a probably just a sign that you're not doing it right.

Memorizing in the way that most students have learned to memorize is like doing a workout with poor form. You're not going to see the results you want and you might just injure your future attempts to study. Keeping the following 3 life-changing memorization secrets in mind you should be able to turn your poor flopping around study routine into the easy process that it should be.

One point is absolutely essential to note though: Memorization is not the same thing as studying. Memorization is remembering specific information. Studying is attempting to use the information and be able to apply it for more than just a test.

1. Memorization Requires Testing


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The majority of students try to memorize by picking up their textbooks and reading. That is studying but it's definitely not memorizing. Reading information does not help you memorize anything. Your brain doesn't memorize any information that it doesn't feel the need to memorize. When you're reading it out of a textbook, you give your brain absolutely no reason to actually remember the information. The key is to take the information off of the page and find connections.

Reading is good for getting information to stick in your short term memory but that doesn't help you in most test situations. That information you read will be forgotten completely in a couple of hours. What you need to do is transfer that information from your short term memory to your long term memory.

Transferring information from your short term memory to your long term memory can be a little unpredictable but there is one basic concept that you need to focus on. To remember anything, you need to make connections in your brain. Those connections link all the information you're learning together in some way. The way you can make those connections naturally is through quizzing yourself.

You need to quiz yourself (while you can't just look at the answers.) The easiest way to think about it is with flashcards. You need to ask the question (on one side of the card) and find the answer only using your memory. If you can't do that then you're not actually learning the information. Every time you follow through with the question and find the answer, your brain lays the framework for remembering it long term.

Many students wait until the test to find out if the information they tried to study stuck. That usually leaves them disappointed.

2. Understand Short Term Memory


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Notice how I mentioned your short term memory storing the information while reading? That's important because it introduces one of the most overlooked tricks of memorization.

Most people's short term memory is absolutely amazing. (Despite that, most people think they're slightly deficient in memory anyway.) Short term memory can remember information significantly quicker than your long term memory. If the information has even the slightest bit of importance to your day then you can remember it in the short term fast. The problem is that it only lasts a little while before getting forgotten.

Despite that disadvantage, you can use your short term memory to prepare for a test. If you need to memorize a lot of information for a test then one way to significantly improve your grade is to perform your memorization within 20 minutes of starting the test.

Studying right before the test is one of the most simple ways you can see a huge improvement in your grades with almost no studying. While it's not a magical way to get a perfect grade, with the right combination of preparation and last minute studying, you can do amazing things.

That being said, it comes with some disadvantages for some students. If you tend to get stressed before a test then it might be in your best interest to save this study trick for the least stressful of your tests.

3. Meaningful Memorization


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The worst problem students can suffer from with their memorization goals is a lack of motivation. If you're not absolutely committed to memorizing something then you're going to be fighting against your own nature to memorize it. That's not good.

When you study something that you care about, absolutely every ounce of focus in your body can be used to make the connections. When you study something you're not too fond of, the opposite takes place. Almost every ounce of your body is looking for an excuse to get distracted. You can sometimes recognize this when you're studying something like Abraham Lincoln and somehow start thinking about your favorite television show.

When you have to memorize something, don't memorize it. Yes. You read that right but I probably don't mean what you think. Having to memorize something is trying to force yourself to study. Guess what... you don't have to memorize anything. Every time you pick up the textbook it's your choice. Every distraction you let get in the way is your choice. Sometimes it's a good choice. Sometimes it's not. You are responsible.

Do you not want to study? Don't study.

That being said, never forget to think about the things you miss out on when you choose not to study. When you don't study, you are sacrificing your grades. With that, you may be sacrificing more. Does sacrificing them help or hurt what you'd like to achieve in life?

Really, don't force yourself to memorize. If you can't find a meaningful or interesting reason to be memorizing something then you're doing something wrong. Try to find meaning in anything that you are going to study. Without it, you'll be fighting against your own nature and just hoping something sticks.

Do what means something to you and you'll consistently be able to amaze yourself with the results.



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