How Can I Improve My Memory?I have to learn a lot and my memory is not so great.  How can I boost my memory?

14 Answers

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The best way to improve your memory is by making associations.  When you have a term or word you want to remember, think of an association.   It can be a word that the word makes you think of, or a story that the word makes you think about.  I used to make up stories for vocabulary words when I was in high school, and I still remember some of those words today!

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terryhi | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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If you need better memory to memorize school works, then you need to develop your own way to boost your concentration. Go to quite place if you work best in a quite place. Listen to songs if that is your best way. You need to eat full nutrition and sleep well. If your body lacks sleep, then you can never concentrate fully. So, it is better to sleep early than to stay up late trying to finish the works.

Sometimes, your brain memorizes better when you engage in more activity. Form a study group and discuss with your friends. Use index cards if you are trying to memorize vocabulary or terms. If you are trying to study history, it works best to draw a timeline.You can use many colors to catch your eyes.

When you are highlighting, be sure to highlight the important part. Students often end up highlighting the whole text. If you are highlighting the whole text, then there is no use for highlighting. 

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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There have been studies to help with this. I heard years ago that originally phone numbers were broken down from seven straight digits to 3-4 combinations. (This was, of course, before area codes.) The idea is that smaller groups of information are easier to recall.

Something else that can help are devices that trigger patterns in our brains. Nursery rhymes use patterns of beat, and years after reciting them, most of us know  them by heart. "Ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb..." The stress makes it more memorable.

Piano players will tell you that associating words with letters helps: in reading music, the lines of the upper staff are G-B-D-F-A, and I was always taught "great big ducks fly away."

Little devices can help, often with personal associations we make. In To Kill a Mockingbird, for a character study, "Boo" is a frightening character to the children at the start, so "boo!" would be easy to remember.

For Romeo and Juliet, to remember who is a Montague and who, a Capulet, I would remind my students that famous pictures of Juliet show that she has a tiny, pearled "cap" on her head.

To help students remember how to spell embarrassment, I remind them: two r's and two s's, along with the "bad butt" word (a**).

Associations work in everything, as long as we associate what WE know or can easily remember, rather than relying on someone else's association unless it is meaningful to us personally.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As post 7 mentioned, one of the most overlooked techniques to building memory or simply having a strong memory is sleep.  Sleep deprivation affects concentration and memory more than we realize or give it credit for.

As humans, it is natural for us to see things in groups or categories.  It is also natural for us to try to make connections between new learning and things we already know.  I also encourage you to organize your material by outlining (this creates logical categories AND helps draw connections between ideas), study the material outloud or through discussion, and think about the material as compared to things you already know.  Draw connections with ideas you understand well and you will have an easier time remembering new things.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In addition to feeding the brain protein and keeping oneself hydrated, studies reveal that sleeping on things, as the old expression goes, is really true.  For, there are neural connections that are made in the brain as one sleeps; so, when a person wakes, he or she can remember better, and can assimilate facts.

Clearly, the memory is developed with practice, practice, practice.  Using the tips already provided along with finding one's own method will be the key to success.  But, writing things and saying them aloud, making up songs, etc. are all aids to memory--the more senses employed to aid in remembering facts and ideas, the better.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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First make sure that you use proper nutrition and keep yourself properly hydrated. Your body learns best when these two factors are in balance. Then make sure that you work with the material in multiple ways. Read the material, take notes on the material, draw images or symbols that help you relate and remember the information, make manipulatives that require movement while learning such as flash cards. The more areas of the brain in which you process the material, the more areas for retrieval.

lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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The biggest thing to do is to work to learn material and not merely memorize it. As someone else said don't just read the text, outline it also. Using flashcards is great repetition, just make sure you are doing different things with the flash cards, one time through look at the answer side and supply the question, next time do the opposite.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many theories about how to do this.  My own opinion is that the only way to boost your memory is through hard work and repetition.

You have to know a lot to be able to memorize things.  The more you know, the easier it is to memorize.  So you have to learn a lot about whatever subject you are trying to memorize things from.  If you are trying to memorize dates in history, for example, the more that you actually understand the history you are studying, the better you can remember dates.

In my opinion, there is no way to boost memory other than to work hard.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Depending on what it is you have to learn there are a lot of things you can do to help you study material.  One of the most important things you can do is force your brain to manipulate what you are trying to study.  For example, don't just read the text book, write an outline as well so that your brain is processing what you are reading.  Reading can be a passive activity.  Another suggestion is create flashcards of important material.  Put a topic on one side and a piece or two of information on the other and then quiz yourself.  The great thing with flashcards is that you know you have learned something if you don't have to turn over the card to see the answer.  You could do the same kind of thing with a two-column chart that you can fold in half to quiz yourself. 

The key to helping your memory is to work with material in smaller ways and to make connections in a variety of ways.

crystaltu001's profile pic

crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I don't know if this works or not because I never tested it, but some people actually say that running and exercising can help improve your memory. (You should look this up to see if it's true. Sorry.) If this doesn't work, maybe you should ask your teacher or someone.

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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Eat brain food! But seriously, keeping your body healthy and active will have a drastic improvement on your mental capabilities. Come up with associations, songs, mnemonic devices, rhymes, etc to help you remember things. Eventually, through repeated use, they'll become a part of your memory. For example, most people don't need to use PEMDAS after a certain point to remember the order of operations.

zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Read and take tests. Try to do exercises that work your brain. If you are memorizing vocabulary, associate that with another phrase or word to help you clearly remember the definition.

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angel-girl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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When it comes to remembering things, always do it the day you learn it. During lesson you absorb 10% only (I think). But when you revise within 72 hours you can absorb much more into your brain.

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giorgiana1976 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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If you have had memory problems in the past, then go to see your doctor, because it could be a vitamin or mineral deficiency or maybe something else.

If you have memory problems recently, then maybe you are under stress and the volume of data becomes bigger and bigger. But, there are a lot of tricks to boost your brain. One of them is to play with your brain, solving puzzles, crosswords, learning a new language, joining social networks etc.

Also, breaking the routine could boost your memory because any challenge makes your brain to create new connexions.