Some Truths about Memory Memory is not perfect. Few people have “picture-perfect” memories that can record information the way a camera does. Most people have to use strategies to help them remember. Memory is a case of “use it or lose it.” Memory strategies require practice and discipline. Using your memory also seems more difficult if you haven’t been in a school setting recently. Memory is a skill that can be learned. Memory strategies are not generic or innate – they must be learned. There are many different strategies to help you remember information. Memory does not diminish over time. Many people think that memory “goes” when they get older. In fact, memory stays quite intact – it is the speed of retrieval that diminishes. Rote memorization has limitations. Students who rely on memorization for their exams are in for a big surprise. Not only is it difficult to memorize an entire term’s worth of information for the exam, but trying to do so can cause a great deal of anxiety. Memory Tip 1: Pay Attention in Class All information presented in class, whether by spoken word or visual aids, must pass through sensory memory. It is the critical gateway for information to be received by other memory systems. Attend your lectures with a goal of listening. Memory Tip 2: Take Effective Notes In order for information to be stored in long-term memory, it first needs to pass through your short-term or working memory. As this stage of memory is limited in the amount of information it can retain, information you receive in class must be written down or you will forget it. Memory Tip 3: Remember the Three R’s In order to move information form short-term memory into long-term memory, you must do three things: repeat information, make information relevant or meaningful, and keep information recent. Memory Tip 4: Use Mnemonics Mnemonics are short-term memory devices that involve making arbitrary but easy-to-remember associations for specific information that is easy to forget.* Some examples are sohcahtoa (trigonometric definitions of sine, cosine, and tangent) and roygbiv (the colours of the rainbow). Memory Tip 5: Generate Examples A very effective way of monitoring your own comprehension is to generate examples of concepts.* If you cannot do this, it is likely that you do not fully understand the concept. It is also important to understand why something is an example of a concept and why it is not an example of something else. Memory Tip 6: Use Visual Imagery Visualization of concepts can be a very powerful way to learn. Images can be directly related to the topic or can be based on analogies that transfer abstract concepts into concrete images.* (Eg. Flow of electricity > river) Memory Tip 7: Make Associations Get a sense of the “big picture” by making connections between the lecture and textbook or readings, and between lectures.* Memory works best when information is first learned by theme. Memory Tip 8: Use Rehearsal Strategies* Practice retrieving information by reciting key ideas, predicting questions, practicing problems, and testing yourself using old exams. These strategies will assist you with consolidating information in long-term memory.