Study Hacks to Improve Your Memory

Head over to YouTube and searching for a “study with me” video. It’s like having someone there to study with, on tap. Just don’t fall into a rabbit hole of recommended videos while you’re there!

study hacks for exams

20 Study Hacks to Improve Your Memory

We have scoured our brains and the internet for the best study hacks to help your brain remember information. Memory is a muscle. Get it in shape. This well help you to remember quicker and more easily. This will help you in your exams and in your life.

1. Walk Before An Exam

It’s been proven that exercise can boost your memory and brain power. Research conducted by Dr. Chuck Hillman of the University of Illinois provides evidence that about 20 minutes exercise before an exam can improve performance.

study hacks for exams

2. Speak Out Loud Instead of Simply Reading

Although this may make you look a little crazy, give it a go! You will be surprised how much more you can remember when you’ve said it out loud. Warning: Don’t try this in a crowded library!

study methods

3. Reward Yourself With A Treat

There are many ways to integrate a reward system into your habits so you learn how to study for exams more efficiently. Here’s a simple way to motivate yourself to study with Gummy Bears:

Study Hacks Reward System

4. Teach What You Have Learned

The best way to test if you really understand something is to try to teach it to someone else. If you can’t get anyone to listen to you explain the Pythagorean Theorem, why not teach a class of stuffed animals!

how to study for exams

Hacks to boost your memory and learning

14. Get environment savvy

So, if you’re going to be sitting in an exam hall when you’re being tested, then the closer you can replicate an exam-hall like environment during at least some of your learning, the more you’ll get a small boost to memory come exam time.

15. Make it harder

There’s some evidence that a slightly harder-to-read font is actually better for memory, perhaps because it forces your eyes to really take in the words rather than skimming through.

16. Retrieve to re-read

17. Write and flash

best study hacks

If you need to practice remembering anything complicated (like a list of 4 or 5 or more items, or a complex equation or formula), don’t recall it in your head – write it down. It will massively help you recall the whole thing – trust me!

18. Number and flash

If your flashcard has a list on the back, put the number of items in the list on the front – that way you know how many items you’re aiming for in your retrieval practice.

19. Order is important

Take advantage of the primacy effect, which says that things you study early on in a session are more likely to be remembered – perhaps because you’re at your freshest and most alert.

20. Have you got a sore thumb?

As a student, I liked to break up the pattern of predictable study notes or flashcards, especially on topics that could be a little dry, by adding a zany phrase or a joke – even if it was completely unrelated to the material!

21. Freshen up outdoors

22. Catch some zzz’s

Brandon Sanderson’s Advice for Doing Hard Things

A reader recently sent me a video of a keynote speech, delivered in 2020 by the popular fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson. The title of the presentation was “The Common Lies Writers Tell You,” but its real message was more general.

Sanderson starts (perhaps channeling a young Cal Newport) by pushing back on our common instinct to tell kids “you can do anything you want to” or “follow your dreams.” He argues that these aphorisms inflict a disservice on impressionable minds as they obfuscate the complexity, and frustration, and nuance involved in actually pursuing remarkable goals.

Sanderson then proceeds to details three tips, drawn from his experience as a successful novelist, to help structure any attempt to tackle hard things. I found his advice both interesting and refreshingly blunt, so I thought it might be useful to summarize his three tips here, annotated with some of my own thoughts…

Part 3 – Pick a Study Method That Works for You

List of Study Methods

Mindlessly reading through your notes or textbooks isn’t an effective method of studying; it doesn’t help you process the information. Instead, you should use a proven study strategy that will help you think through the material and retain the information.

Strategy #1 – SQ3R Method

Strategy #2 – PQ4R Method

Effective Study Skills for Students

Strategy #3 – THIEVES Method

Studying Online

Dr. Tony Bates has written a thoughtful and thorough guide to studying online, A Student Guide to Studying Online. Not only does he highlight the importance of paying attention to course design, but he also offers helpful tips on how to choose the best online program and manage your course load.

Listening To Music

You can blast Drake if you want, but you wouldn’t be getting anything done because you’re belting at the top of your lungs while your unfinished essay sits in front of you. Listening to natural sounds, podcasts or ambient noises boost productivity. They provide a soothing background sound that keeps you focused and working. You can listen to lo-fi music as well, which works for me!

During this time of uncertainty, it can be hard to communicate and build relationships with professors or teachers. Communication is a great study hack that I believe has increased my accessibility to resources as well as improved my grades. Use email and attend office hours even if they’re virtual! Whether it’s a teacher or professor, you should communicate and get to know them more.

They are there to help you and increase your learning so take advantage of that! Ask all the questions you have and concepts you don’t understand. You’ll benefit from this and take away more than just what you learned in class.


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