Often, the issue with not being able to remember something isn’t a result of not learning it.
Instead, it has more to do with your ability to recall the memory when you need it. Some memories can be harder to recall than others. For example, most people never forget how to ride a bike or drive a car once they’ve learned, but other memories may need some sprucing up in order to be easily recalled.
Using the methods below, you’ll be able to recall things you’ve learned more easily.
This is one of the most obvious ways to improve your memory recall. The more you repeat what you’re trying to learn, the more likely it will be that it sticks in your head. Depending on how dense the information is, it may not take too many listens before you know the information well.
You might try repeating the information to yourself, rereading a passage in the book, or recording yourself stating the information to listen to several times throughout the day. In time, you won’t need to continue repeating it because the information will be right there for you to use.
Have you ever experienced a time when the sound of a certain song or episode of a show brought back memories of what you were doing when listening to it in the past? What about smells? Has a particular scent ever brought back memories for you?
If it has, that may be worth remembering for the future. When you’re studying something new, try to find a song, show or scent to connect it to. This can help because it gives the information an attachment to something else in your life, which you can use to help with recalling it later.
One of the tools people have used for a long time is known as a mnemonic device. This is a tool that aids in learning through making the information easier to remember. For example, while growing up you may have learned “PEMDAS,” or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. This device stands for the order in which to solve long division equations: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.
When you’re learning other kinds of information, you can create your own mnemonic devices in order to remember it. Really, as long as the message makes sense and simplifies the information, it will help you in remembering what you need to.
Writing down the information is also a great way to help with remembering it. Keep in mind that this process could be slightly different for everyone. It could be that you only need to copy down important information from a textbook, video or other location.
Otherwise, it may also be helpful to then write out the information in your own way. Imagine you’re writing a piece for a textbook on that subject, and then write it out as if you’re explaining it to the reader. The more you do this, the deeper the information you need to remember will become ingrained.
When you’re able to spend a longer amount of time picking up the information, it’s going to be easier for your brain to digest it all. This is why things like cramming for big tests in the day or two before it isn’t generally a good idea. You might work through a lot of information, but it isn’t guaranteed that your brain will remember it.
Instead, it’s far easier to try to learn smaller amounts every day, or at least every week. In these shorter timeframes, you’ll have less information to organize into your brain at a time. Once you’ve gone through it, you can then review the information periodically to make sure it doesn’t fade away. This method is going to be much easier on your brain.
Another great way to solidify information for yourself is to teach it to someone else. That may be a friend or family member who is willing to learn, or even a pretend audience. Become an expert by understanding the information so well that you really could be teaching it.
You may also choose to do this by helping out other students or coworkers. If there are parts of the information you understand that your peer doesn’t, you can practice it by teaching them. This goes both ways, as they might understand pieces of the information more clearly than you do. It’s an excellent, symbiotic way to learn together.
When you need to recall long sequences of information, it can be easier to break that information up into smaller groups. That way, you only need to digest one small group at a time rather than trying to remember the entire sequence. For example, instead of trying to remember a large number like 1,234,567,890, you can remember 1234, 567 and 890.
The same kind of method can be applied to other types of information. Breaking down what you need to learn is a great way to make it easier to remember. As you’re doing this, you can also consider cutting out pieces of information that aren’t important, and keeping to the basics. Additional details will just create more to try to organize into your memory.
Similar to attaching the information to something, you can also try to give the information meaning that applies to you. Try to generate a story or memory that relates to the subject in some way. It doesn’t really need to be a way in which others would understand, as long as you understand it.
For example, if you’re learning about sea creatures, you can think back to a time when you went to the beach or aquarium and saw these creatures. Imagine seeing them again, and try to recall the information you’re learning about each one as you imagine them in front of you.