Being Mindful of Your Needs Leads to Better Memory

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When the pressure is on, it is all too common to be stumped by questions that require you to recall a definition or the exact order in which a process is conducted. Although memorizing information is a difficult task for many individuals, there are many options to improve a person’s memory by the way in which he or she initially learns the information.


The first step to improving memorization is to identify what type of learner you are. More than half of the students are typically visual learners—meaning they remember information best when it is encoded visually. Still, other people learn best through lectures, teaching others, experiential activities, reading, creating associations, or by organizing and ordering the information. But the fact is that most people learn most effectively through a blended approach, using a combination of the above techniques.


For a visual learner, it may be beneficial to reinforce what is learned in a classroom with flash cards, mnemonic devices and visual associations like diagrams, tables or outlines. Mnemonic devices are best utilized when need to remember the exact order of a process, a formula or simply a list of words that interconnect. For example, remember back in the fourth grade when we learned the acronym MIMAL in geography class? MIMAL is the figurative man in the middle of United States that helps you remember the states: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.


For many people, like me, it is always helpful to pretend to be teaching others the information because if you can communicate the data, you probably have mentally stored it and therefore, will be able to recall that during a test. Creating visual aids, like diagrams, is a form of this process because you are interpreting the information into another format that will increase your retention of it.


But it is critical that while in a classroom setting—no matter how you are being taught—to always remember that in order to successfully learn, store, retain and recall information, you must utilize the best memorization techniques for the type of learner you are. Also, continue to experiment with alternative study techniques, because you never know how much or little a technique may improve your memory.

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