I study but I forget. What Should I Do?
Many students complain that despite studying hard, they forget everything on the day of the exam. They struggle with questions like ‘How to remember what I study?’ And it’s a real challenge. Stress makes us forgetful and everybody knows, examinations are one of the main triggers of stress in students.
Here are a few tips that can help you strengthen your memory:
1. Play Reading-and-Recalling Game
Read 2-3 words in a book silently – just once. Close the book and repeat them (without looking at them again). In the first week, do it for 5 minutes per day. This is a good exercise to improve your short-term memory. When you are comfortable with remembering 3 words at a time, try again with reading and recalling 4-5 words at a time. Increase the time to 10 minutes per day in the second week.
In the third week, practice reading and recalling words for 15 minutes per day. Try and memorize longer stretches of words as you become good at this game. To make it more entertaining, you can play this reading-and-recalling game with your family and friends.
2. Pay Attention in Class
You must have experienced this in class. A teacher gives a lecture in class. Some students seem excited about it, understand the topic easily, and remember it forever. Others look at their watches to check when the class will be over. And, often, they are the ones who don’t understand or remember a word later on. Similarly, some people study for two hours a day and learn more than students who slog for 10 hours a day. The miracle here lies in the ‘focus’ and ‘concentration’ of students.
Besides listening to what the teacher said, you should take notes in class. While taking notes, remember to write down the core ideas of what the teacher says. Later, when you make a fair copy of your notes, try to link the new things you have learned with the old information you already know. This will help you understand the topic better.
The more senses you use to capture a piece of information, the more you will remember. For example, if you want to learn that strawberries are called ‘fresa’ in Spanish, learn its pronunciation and say it again and again while thinking about what the strawberry looks like, the colour and texture of the strawberry, its smell and taste, and how you felt when you plucked fresh strawberries from a farm. You may also relate ‘fresa’ with ‘fresh’ and associate it with ‘fresh strawberries’.
To remember stories in literature or major events in history, create short stories. Write down the name of the main characters, when and where the story took place, what the characters did, and what happened to them and the story in the end.
3. Use the PQ4R Method for Smart Studies
The PQ4R method stands for:
- P for Previewing,
- Q for Questioning, and
- 4R for Reading, Reflecting, Reciting, and Reviewing.
To preview a topic, screen the headings and sub-headings of the topic quickly. As you look at the headings, ask yourself what you already know about them. Read the part you don’t know about. Reflect on what new things you have learnt and how they relate to the information you already knew.
Now, recite what you have just read without looking at the book. This will help you test your memory and give you an idea of what you are likely to forget later on. Now, review by rereading the portion of the text you have not understood or you forgot.
I study but I forget What Should I Do – This method will help you to learn more in less time
4. Actively Think about What You Learn
Studies find that when you think about something in different ways, it gets cemented in your memory forever. One way to do is to think about how the new information you have learnt relates to what you already know. Another way is to consider how you can use or apply the information in daily life – be it a farm, school, architecture, engineering, or any other setting.
Classifying information in different groups is a good way to learn lists. For example, you have a list of words to learn: red boy cap piano peacock blue child frock flute eagle green girl dress guitar duck
You can organize this information in five groups to remember it easily:
red boy cap piano peacock
blue child frock flute eagle
green girl dress guitar duck
Mapping concepts is also a good way to understand how different topics relate to each other. You can do so by identifying the key ideas of a concept and then relating it to the key ideas of another concept you have learnt. You can also make diagrams to understand a concept as well as relationships between two concepts.
5. Use the Linkword Method to Remember Better
If you want to memorize something new, the ‘link word method’ by Michael Gruneberg is quite effective. It is about coming up with a visualizable and interactive keyword or keyphrase to represent a longer thought. Now you need to think of an image to ‘link’ your keyword with what you have to learn.
One example of the link word method to remember taxonomy in Biology:
Dear King Philip Can Only F(ind/uck) Green Spouse
The first letter of this phrase stands for:
The image you come up with should be funny, naughty, or bizarre – so that you never forget it.
You can use it in Math too. For example, if you want to learn how many feet are there in a mile, learn ‘5 tomatoes’.
5 to (m)ate o(es)
5 2 8 0
There are 5,280 feet in a mile.
The formula for the area of a circle can be remembered as:
A(pple) Pi(e) (r)e Square
A= π r2
You may also use other types of mnemonics to remember things forever. For example, in the ‘loci method’, you may generate a mental image of your home and place information about different topics in different places. You picture the images or videos of what you want to remember in a specific room of your home. When you want to recall the topic, you mentally walk into that room, try to remember the image and the video related to it and pick it up.
Some students learn better by humming the info to the tune of their favourite songs.
If you forget a ‘term’ or a ‘name’ on the day of the exam, go through your ABCs and try to recall if it starts with that letter.