How good is your memory? Do you retain everything that you’ve revised? Or do you find that over time the information begins to slip away? Do you know what to do to get better grades?
Don’t worry! That’s perfectly normal. Human beings are supposed to forget! I’m not making this up! Physiologically, we’re pretty much the same as we were 10,000 years ago we lived in caves. You can probably imagine that it was crucial to our survival back then, to forget where the herd of deer was seen two weeks ago but remember where it was yesterday afternoon.
So our brains have evolved to forget older information in favour of new information. You might find then, that no matter how much hard work and effort you put into learning new revision, it simply won’t stay in your head.
In fact, it is reckoned that most people will forget 80% of what they’ve learnt within 2 weeks. No wonder you’re having trouble!
However, the good news is that there’s enough research out there now and people too who have benefited from the findings, who can tell you exactly how to get better grades, by doing specific things to compensate for this natural tendency to forget.
Once you know what to do about it, you’ll find that you naturally retain information ongoingly, and get better grades in your exams as a consequence.
There are several things you can do, each of which give you an increasingly better chance of better grades, so let’s start with the 3 Keys to Learning.
1 First Key to Learning
You need to spend enough time in the first place with the information you are trying to learn, for your brain to make a pattern of it and send it to your long-term memory. You’ll be doing this already, when you attend to the 2nd key of learning:
2. Second Key to Learning
You’ll have to make notes in a form that your brain likes. Of course, we Human beings have plenty in common with each other, and therefore there are many ways of taking notes, which would be helpful to all of us. Having said that, each of us processes, stores and retrieves information slightly differently from each other, and so it’s important for us to learn exactly how our brain prefers to do that so that we tailor our revision accordingly. As you learn how to do this, you will improve your study skills, setting yourself up to get better grades later on.
There are all sorts of ways to do this. One thing to bear in mind is that the fewer words you write on any one page of revision notes, the better chance there is of you remembering them! Only write keywords in your notes. Your brain will fill in the rest and make sense of them. When you have made your notes, turn the page over and write a question on the back. This question will be the question you test yourself with, to see if you have remembered everything you intended to on the other side of the paper.
3. Third Key to Learning
You need to return on a regular basis, and according to the Learning Cycle, to information you have already revised. This ensures that your brain hangs on to the information, instead of allowing it to disappear. When you do return to your notes, make sure your revision page is filed away questions side up, so you can’t see the notes that you made. As you answer the question you set yourself, close your eyes and try to see in your mind’s eye the notes on the other side of the page and say the answers out loud as you draw them in the air with your finger. By testing yourself in this way, you will be using far more of your brain and will find it easier to remember your revision way down the line in the exam.
You might be surprised at what a huge difference these simple things will make to your revision success. Try them and see. Good luck!