The Linking or Story Method of memorization allows you to remember long lists of random words using visual links.
Related: Make a story (The Story Method)
To optimize the effectiveness of this method, create weird and wonderful images, or visualize things to which you have an emotional attachment.
For example, if I want to memorize the periodic table elements, I need to create a visual picture for each element and then link them together in a story.
Step 1 – Create a specific picture for every item on your list.
- Hydrogen – a glass of water
- Helium – a balloon
- Lithium – a battery
- Beryllium – a spacecraft
- Boron – a tennis racket
Step 2 – Link each image to the next.
- A glass of water is attached to a balloon floating through the sky.
- A falling battery bursts the balloon
- The battery powers a space rocket
- The rocket lands on the moon, and the astronauts inside play tennis.
So how can I memorize faster for exams? Try creating links in your mind and visualize those monster-sized lists. You’ll get it in no time.
- The images you use need to have a strong link in your own memory so that you know exactly what they represent.
- The sillier, the better, as things that are different and unique are easier to remember.
- Piecing each image together in a story can help you to remember everything in order.
Sleep On It
Have you ever stayed up all night revising for an exam the next day? Well, here’s the good news – scientists say that it’s much more effective to revise until bedtime and then sleep on it instead of revising through the night.
If you want to know “how can I memorize faster for exams,” then sleep on it. Not only does sleep process and store your memories accumulated through the day, but a good night’s sleep also improves cognitive function and problem-solving skills.
Brain studies with EEG machines have shown that “place cells” – the neurons which fire around our brain in a specific sequence during activities or sensory experiences – repeat identical sequences when we enter deep, dreamless, slow-wave sleep.
This means that we reenact the day’s experiences to help cement them into our long-term memory, and we can use this to cement our studies.
Related: Top 5 Exam Prep Tips
Write it Down
We use a keyboard less of our fine motor skills than writing with pen and paper. We increase the brain’s sensory experience by handwriting our notes, making it more likely that our brain will store the information we are recording.
Combining motor skills, visual perception, and touch sensation aid the brain’s natural learning process. Researchers in the Norwegian Center For Learning discovered that writing notes by hand activates a different brain area than typing those same notes.
When we type, each letter passes us by in a flash, but writing helps to keep each letter in our brain’s central focus for more extended periods. Additionally, when we write by hand, we have to think more carefully about the words we write down as we cannot simply delete and replace them. This extra layer of cognitive activity further aids our retention of information.
A lot of people utilize mnemonic strategies to help them remember things. These methods can assist individuals in remembering how to spell difficult words and memorize information. There are many different mnemonics techniques to select, so find one that fits your learning style and the facts you need to remember.
Mnemonic approaches use patterns to help you remember a phrase or idea and help you achieve your goal of memorizing faster for exams. Songs, poetry, rhymes, and acronyms are all examples of mnemonic strategies. Mnemonics provide meaning to the mundane to make it more memorable.
BECAUSE – Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants
RHYTHM – Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move
Order of Operations
The order of operations uses a short sentence or phrase to help you remember a set of something in order. For example:
God Equals Light, Not Dark – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Memory palace/Method of Loci
“Loci” (Latin for “places”) is a memory method based on the concept that people remember places they are familiar with well. So, suppose you can associate something (important concepts, items on a list, etc.) with a familiar area. In that case, the location will serve as a reminder to help you recall what you’re trying to remember.
Pick a familiar place such as your home.
Envision each piece of information you want to remember in a separate room or section of your home. In your mind, place each item you wish to remember in one of the areas.
When you need to recall something, envision your home and walk around it room by room in your head. The familiar associations should help you to recollect your visions whenever required.
Any form of exercise can aid in healthy brain function, helping us to retain better memories. But did you know that walking backward may be the key to retrieving our stored memories?
Researchers from the United Kingdom discovered that those who walked backward had greater short-term memory recall than those who walked forwards or sat still.
And it’s not just the physical motion that can help to trigger your memories. Visualizing a backward movement can achieve the same results. So, next time you’re struggling to recall what you studied yesterday, close your eyes and picture yourself moving backward – it might just help you to remember.
Take regular breaks
Many of us have done it: the day before an exam, we try to learn as many facts as possible. But, just as fast as we learn it, our newly acquired knowledge seems to vanish. The good news is that we can prevent this forgetfulness by using the spacing technique, which requires us to “space” our studies with regular breaks.
When we learn new information, we stimulate neurons in our brain to form new connections. We can retrieve the information we learned by reactivating the same collection of neurons.
Researchers have discovered that brief breaks between tasks causes the brain to create new neural pathways. In contrast, when longer breaks are taken between tasks, the same neural pathways are activated upon our return. This means that by allowing longer spaces between studies, we can enhance the connections we have already built rather than starting from scratch each time.
Draw concept maps
Having the know-how to ask, “how can I memorize faster for exams” is the first step to doing it right? But a phenomenal method to use is drawing concept maps.
Concept maps are similar to note-taking but utilize a map design to link various concepts together.
They are helpful for various study elements, such as sorting data into categories that make sense, considering the “big picture,” and looking for links between concepts.
We amass knowledge as we grow older because we can begin to link concepts and ideas in our heads, creating a big picture view. It is much easier to remember new information that fits into a set of facts or concepts that we already know and understand.
That’s why concept maps are a valuable tool for study; they allow you to order and categorize data into a ‘big picture’ view to help you see how all the separate chunks of information fit together.
Practice makes perfect
While memory techniques have their uses and can provide significant help to you when studying, the old method of practice makes perfect is a tried-and-true theory.
The more you read something, write something, or do something, the more likely you will remember that thing. But how can I memorize faster for exams? Find the memory hacks that work best for you and use them regularly for the best results.
So, with that title question, how can I memorize faster for exams?, we have spoken about a lot of tips and techniques showing you how you can engage your senses to better memorize critical information for your exams.
Some of the above ideas may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but they are based in logic, and you will get used to them the more you use them.
Take your time and try implementing 1 or 2 of these techniques to start with, and if they bring you success, you can try more of them until you find a nice balance that works for you.
Remember to let us know what works for you in the comments.
Catch you soon!
Hey, I’m Kris Taylor. I’m a Learning and Development professional currently in the healthcare field, with over 8 years of experience in the area of corporate education. I have created numerous instructional content for various corporate projects including eLearning, in-person facilitation, and virtual training across a wide variety of learning interventions and sectors. On Taughtup, I discuss topics ranging from how to succeed through K-12 to college all the way to instructional design tips for L&D designers.