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18 Amazing memory hacks for exams

Revision season is typically the most hated time of year for any student at any academic level (for sure). To help you with your timetable and the vast amount of revision that you need to learn for two months of intense testing, we have amazing memory hacks for exams that will allow you to remember all of that important information!

  1. Take a long walk

It has been proven that exercising, such as walking can boost your brain power and memory, and research has shown that around twenty minutes of exercise before an exam can improve performance. That sounds good to us! Try and take short fifteen to twenty minute walks during intense revision days to create a routine for your body and mind, and then try to walk to school or college on the day, to boost that brain power!

2. Say it out loud and proud

Although this may make you feel self-conscious but you will be surprised by how much more you remember when you start reading your notes out loud. However, don’t make this a habit in the library, as you may receive unwanted glares and stares from fellow students!

3. Reward yourself when you earn it!

There are several ways to integrate a sort of reward system into your revision and study habits, and these motivations can improve how your memory works. Students use sweets and nice food for when they finish certain parts of their revision, or allow themselves to watch a movie, or play on their games console when they have a good day of revision.

4. Teach someone else what you know

One of the most productive ways to know if you really understand something you have revised is to attempt to teach someone else the information. Relaying the information that you have studied that day, or the previous week will be the best way to test if you actually set it into your memory. Also, the repetition of you saying and reading the information over and over will help it stick.

5. Create connections

The ability to make connections is the fuel of creativity and intelligence, as well as making the process of remembering information easier. Steve Jobs, the founder and creator of Apple said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”. Mind maps and spider diagrams are a great way to connect ideas by creating a visual representation of the connections.

6. Draw it out

Sometimes drawing something out will help you visualise it better when attempting to remember the information it later. If you have a strong metaphor or scenario which will match the information or theory you are revising, it can be easier to visualise it in a different way to help your mind piece it together later on.

7. Keep it Times New Roman

Apparently, Times New Roman is the default font on most applications because it is the easiest and fastest font to read. So, if you want to read through lots of notes and not stress out your eyes during the process, keep it simple!

8. Don’t get distracted

There are lots of apps out there for all smartphones that help students avoid distractions during study times by blocking websites, and other apps for a certain amount of time. These apps are also quite good at what they do, so if you block websites for 2 hours, there is no way to access them on your phone – even if you turn your phone off and on again! Be wary of this feature though, do not put it on for long periods of time if you need to access these websites and end up putting yourself out!

9. Use all mediums and sources

Watch a documentary about the subject or area you are studying. Watching something can help piece together the information that you have been consuming through books, and your brain will be accessing vital revision through a different way. It also may feel like you are not studying at all! Give your mind a break!

10. Learn how to Google properly

Save time when researching and studying sources online, by understanding how to Google properly. Use quotation marks in your search terms to search those exact words, and only see websites that feature that phrase or word. If you want to exclude a term or word from your search, use a hyphen before that word, e.g. ‘west ham – football’ to not see any websites or information in relation to football. Use the tilde symbol when you want to search for the words synonyms and related areas in the results, for example, ‘guitar ~ lessons’ to see results relating to the two. Lastly, if you want to search a term or a word within a certain time frame you can place the year range, separated by two periods, or full stops to achieve this. The query would look like this: ‘movies 1970..1995’.

11. Use flashcards to improve your memory quickly

Test your knowledge in short and frequent bursts of flashcard tests to remember definitions, quotes, key concepts and formulas. You can buy plain flashcards from stationary stores, and write them out yourself, or use lots of free websites online where you can write the information on them and print them out!

12. Give yourself a break

The best memory hack out there is to not overstress your brain during revision time! It can be tempting to simply revise and study for long periods of time, because you feel stressed about the amount of information you need to learn for you exams. But this can actually be really counter-productive because you overwork your brain, and when this happens, it doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. Take regular interval breaks, when you finish working through a topic, or after a certain amount of time to make sure your brain rests from constant studying!

13. Pick the right songs for your ears!

Classical music is one of the most productive genres for studying! It may not be your cup of tea, but it aids how the brain works, and sets the right level of background noise for when you’re working through your heavy revision! Spotify has lots of great already playlists for students – so check them out!

14. Move around

Humans can be creatures of habit, we choose the same place to sit on the bus, we have our own ‘chairs’ at the dining room, and always walk a certain way when getting from point A to B. Vary the areas where you study, by going to the library, staying after class, take your laptop to another room, visit a family or friend’s house to study, or even sitting in your back garden!

15. Practice makes perfect

Help to train the brain to retrieve information by practising sample questions and completing past exam and test papers. Complete these tests through exam-like conditions, such as timing yourself, sitting in a quite room and not allowing yourself to cheat or peep at your revision notes. Mark your exam style questions using the exam marking criteria or if it is easier, ask someone else to grade them for you – so you don’t over or under mark your own work. Most examining boards feature past/test papers and marking criteria information on their website for students to find and use.

16. Get some beauty sleep

Ensure you receive enough sleep on the nights leading up to your exams – allowing your mind and body to grow tired because you are trying to cram in last-minute information will only make you feel worse. When you sleep, your brain pieces together all of the revision you have read during your studying, and builds connections from your memory to make them more accessible later. Do not make ‘Sleep. Eat. Rave. Repeat’ your mantra during exam season!

17. Use your nose

It may sound odd, but revising with an unfamiliar or fresh scent will also aid how your brain memorises important information. For example, if you spray lavender as you revise, and spray it again before you enter the exam hall, the familiar scent will help your brain try to find out where it smelled it before – relating all memories associated with that scent into one place – and it will smell really good too!

18. Ditch the groupchat for a study group!

Studying with others aids students to collect new understandings regarding their revision, and will also enhance your learning experience. Group studying lets you share resources, discuss ideas; theories, issues and answers with others to better your revision techniques and to store information in a different way. Although, don’t get carried away and find yourself ‘group studying’ with friends everyday to then only end up binging on Netflix – yes, we all love OITNB but it won’t make you remember that chemistry equation!