The Commons
student thinking Do you remember what you did yesterday evening? How about Tuesday evening five weeks ago? No?

Don't worry, forgetting these kinds of things is absolutely normal - this is how short term memory works.

But how can you get the stuff you want to remember into your long term memory? Read the following tips on how to help your memory.



10 Ways to Help Your Memory arrow View
The power of review - Short term memory can be converted to long term by reviewing, especially within 24 hours of learning new material.

Clear up the confusion - It’s way easier to memorize things you understand, and things that are organized. Invest the time to really understand the material and get it recorded in an organized way - it’ll pay off!

Read it out loud - Studies show reading out loud improves recall by as much as 80% compared to reading silently.

Q-cards - a great way to learn new terms and definitions. How? Term on one side, the definition on the other—test yourself whenever you have a few spare minutes. For variety, try putting a question on one side, answer on the other. Share them with your study mates. Add pictures/drawings to make them even more memorable.

Make it a game or a song – Think how easy games & songs are to learn! Turn your notes into Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Study Poker or whatever, and you’ll be amazed how easy it can be to learn. Turn that hard bit of info into a rhyme or a song – you’ll never forget it!

Test yourself – it’s not enough to just read your notes to memorize. You need to simulate a test by covering up your notes and testing yourself to see how much you recall. The biggest reason for “blanking” on a test is that you hadn’t truly tested yourself, so didn’t realize that the information wasn’t quite memorized.

Reduce, reduce, reduce - You can’t memorize every single word in a course! Reduce the material to the essentials by making an outline, mind map or chart.

Mnemonics work! -Try acronyms (e.g. Roy G. Biv - 7 colours of spectrum), or acrostics (e.g. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge - 5 notes on musical staff) to help with lists of things to learn.

Visualization - the association with a picture makes things easier to recall for most learners. Even badly drawn pictures work!

Spread it out - three sessions of 1 hour over 3 days is better than one 3 hour session on one day. Spread memory work over many days to make it easier. The brain processes information during the break times in between.

**Bonus tip: Attitude matters! When you’re motivated to learn, it’s far easier. If it’s a dull subject, you can trick your brain into a motivated state with positive self-talk, like “I can master this!”
Having Trouble Concentrating? arrow View
Identify your “distractors” - Is it the phone, TV, fridge, friends? Identify them and then plan to study to minimize these. e.g. turn your phone to record messages, choose a quiet spot that works for you.

Take “micro-breaks” - Every 20 minutes, stretch or change position to help refresh your attention.

Write down interfering thoughts - If you find thoughts like “I must remember to get milk” or “Don’t forget to call Mom” sneaking in, jot them down so they won’t get forgotten and put them out of your mind.

Set realistic goals - Feeling overwhelmed can make it hard to concentrate. Divide tasks into manageable “bites”, and write them in your schedule.

Avoid “energy” drinks - Caffeine is a drug that produces physical symptoms similar to those of stress. Many people feel jittery and actually find it harder to concentrate after having one of these drinks.

Know when to get help - If you’ve tried everything you can think of and still can’t concentrate, consider talking to a counselor about attention disorders.