One of the most disheartening challenges students face is the fickleness of our memories. How many times have you thought “I know that word” but still had to look up its meaning? Or stared at a blank exam paper, remembering the day you learned the information needed but not being able to release it from your memory bank?
The struggle is real, which is why we’re here to help. From online tutoring to interviewing yourself in the shower, these are the top techniques for ensuring you retain more of what you learn:
1. Get a tutor
In addition to the wealth of subject-specific knowledge they have, tutors have been where you are now, meaning they’ll be able to give you plenty of strategies for getting that knowledge to stay in your head where it belongs.
Having a weekly study session with an expert will also do wonders for your commitment and accountability when revising on your own. Tutoring sessions are far more valuable and enjoyable when you’ve done your homework, so you’ll find this simple addition to your study routine will have compounding results.
2. Become a tutor
Start typing “the best way to learn” into Google, and the top result will likely be “the best way to learn is to teach.” If you go ahead with the search, you’ll find dozens of scientific studies verifying this assertion.
You can look into becoming an online tutor (earning yourself some money in the process), or you can keep it simple. If there are students in your class who are struggling, you could start a study group in which you go over each week’s new material.
3. Discuss what you learn every day
Even just telling your parents or friends about what you learned in class will help you retain it. If no-one’s keen on hearing about your Poli-sci 101 class, pretend you’re being interviewed when you’re cooking, washing dishes, or taking a shower. Tell the imaginary interviewer all about what you learned that day. It sounds crazy, but the results are worth it!
4. Make connections
This tip will also help you develop your ability to think critically and analytically. Instead of merely focusing on retaining all the information you’re given, try to make connections between subjects, with current events, and with your personal life.
For example, if you’re studying existentialism, you might notice links to Taoism and Buddhist philosophy. You might also think about the ways in which these ideas could impact your own life and society at large. There’s no end to the connections you can make, and doing so will not only boost your retention rate, but it will also enrich your educational experience.
5. Share your thoughts
Never be shy about sharing your thoughts in class or with your tutor. If you’re following the points above, you will likely have a head full of interesting ideas about the subject matter. However, some of them won’t be fully formed yet. The best way to test them out is to bring them up with your teachers and classmates.
Don’t be embarrassed if an idea of yours is broken down by clever counter-arguments – this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened. You’ll either let go of an ill-formed idea or discover ways to overcome the counter-arguments posed, thus bolstering your own argument.
It’s strange that we have to fight so hard to get our brains to retain all the information we want them to hold onto. Use the tips above to make the struggle easier.