Memorization Strategies

memorization strategies

“I can’t remember!” shouts Annie as she grapples with another low grade on her math exam. This is a common cry from students who struggle to retain what they have studied. Committing information to long-term memory is difficult, especially when learning is more focused on passing an exam than it is about mastering concepts. Memorization strategies can help your child remember more and perform better in exams. 

Here are five of the best memorization strategies for exam success:


Focus on Understanding the Concepts

Your child is more likely to remember if time is taken to understand the concept. Many topics are interrelated. There are topics that would not make sense unless the link is made to a previously learned concept or a topic taught in another subject.  Finding this link makes it easier for your child to understand the new concept.

It also helps to relate the concepts being taught to real world problems. It is easier to do this in subjects such as social studies but harder to do it in subjects such as mathematics.  Nevertheless, trying to find the real world link can help make concepts more meaningful.


Study Before Going to Sleep

Your brain processes and stores information better while you sleep. Encourage your child to plan study sessions for an hour or two before going to bed. Try this for a few days and ask your child if this helps with memorization.

On the other hand, lack of sleep can affect memory and performance. Your child’s study time should be structured in such a way that he or she goes to bed early enough. The National Sleep Foundation states that “Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best.”


Do Self-Tests

Practice makes perfect. Your child should become familiar with exam type questions and practice answering them under exam conditions. The internet is a powerful resource for finding these types of questions. Your child can also use the questions given in class to create a mock test.


Use Repetition to Cement Concepts

Repetition is often touted as the best way to form good habits. The same is true for memorizing concepts because repetition helps strengthen recall. Repetition is further strengthened when deliberate attempts are made to recall the information from memory.

Retrieval creates learning.


Teach the Concepts to Others

Teaching a concept to someone else demonstrates content mastery. Encourage your child to explain what he or she has studied to you after each study session. Do not allow him or her to stop unless you have completely understood and until he or she demonstrates complete confidence.


Putting it All Together

Memorization becomes difficult if it is viewed as ‘swatting’ information. Instead, it should be viewed from the perspective of facilitating long-term learning. Achieving long-term learning through memorization means focusing on understanding the concepts, studying before going to bed, doing self-tests, using repetition and teaching the concepts to others.

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