Many people think that the best way to study is to read texts and notes over and over again. Unfortunately, our brains often switch to autopilot when we do this. We think we remember the information because we have seen it numerous times. However, when we need to recall it on an exam, without the same prompts that were in our notes and texts, we can have difficulty. Here are some better ways to study so that you can improve your memory and recall.
Write an equation, fact, date, or name over and over again until you do not need to look at a prompt to get it right. Start out doing this one day and return to writing out the same sets of information daily until you can do it without any prompts or reminders. This works well for simple facts that must be memorized. Writing repeatedly helps your brain accurately transfer what you know in your head to the paper.
Speak or Teach
Speaking information you need to know out loud will help your brain engage with the material in a different way than just looking at it. If you can paraphrase texts, explain a challenging concept, or retell a story, you will be likely to remember it on an exam.
Two studies cited by the Fast Company found that meditation can improve memory recall and even improve standardized test scores. Scientists are not exactly sure why meditation seems to work to improve memory, but slowing down the brain for a few minutes everyday seems to have its benefits. It can also help relieve stress, which is important when facing a big exam.
Practice is the best way to test your recall and make sure your study methods are actually helping you memorize the material. If possible, take practice tests. Use practice questions, essay prompts, or any other material a professor might provide. If you are struggling to do well with practice questions you may want to try a new method for learning the material.