7 Practices that Help Your Brain Retain and Recall Learning
Many students are unaware of how to study properly. As a result, they are using techniques which don’t help them retain learning.
If you are spending hours glued to the books, but struggle to remember what you’ve learned in exams, it’s a good sign that your study routine needs tweaking.
These practices will help you retain and recall learning more effectively:
- Schedule study sessions at the right time
If you’re not a morning person, it’s counterproductive to schedule study sessions early in the day. You need time to wake up properly before attempting to learn and revise.
On the other hand, if you like to get up early and feel alert in the early hours, consider studying before school instead of after when you may be tired and unmotivated.
- Take frequent breaks
Students often cram for hours without resting, but much of this effort may be wasted. A study by the University of Illinois found that the ability to focus improves dramatically when people take short breaks from a task.
Not all breaks are equal though, and taking a walk is a far better alternative than zoning out on social media.
- Write it down
When taking notes, students today tend to prefer typing to writing by hand, but putting pen to paper is a proven way to commit information to memory. This is because it takes more effort to transcribe notes by hand, meaning the brain is focused on the material for longer.
Try transcribing notes from your computer into a notebook when studying for better recall. At the start of each study session, it’s also a great idea to handwrite everything you can remember before you crack open the books.
- Use memory aids
Tried-and-true methods for enhancing memory include chunking, rhymes, acronyms and visual aids. The goal of these methods is to create memories which are easy to retrieve.
Chunking exploits the natural tendency of the brain to find patterns by grouping small pieces of information together into a larger unit. For example, if you need to remember a lot of dates for history, you can create headings for specific types of dates, such as battles. Once you’ve chunked this information together, you can then create a rhyme or acronym to help retrieve it.
- Teach someone
If you don’t understand a concept properly, you won’t be able to explain it to someone else. Teaching what you know is one of the best ways to reinforce what you’ve learned and identify gaps in knowledge.
Studies have found that people who teach others retain a whopping 90% of what they’ve learned. Study groups and tutoring provide great opportunities to explain concepts to others and deepen your learning.
- Keep Practicing
It’s not enough to learn about a concept or skill, you have to put it into practice to create a neural pathway in the brain.
If you’re studying a language, watch foreign films and find native speakers to chat with. If you’re required to write a narrative for a test, don’t just study what makes a good story but put this information into practice by writing some short stories.
- Healthy Lifestyle
Don’t underestimate the importance of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to retaining and recalling knowledge. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your brain is not at its optimal level and you’ll get tired and zone out when trying to concentrate.
Nutrition is also vital for memory and foods such as fish, berries, nuts and pumpkin seeds have been found to boost brain power.