This is not another article written to throw at you age-old overused theories on Civil Services Exam preparation.
This write-up is a compilation of 18 powerful techniques that you must adopt now to improve your memory power and successfully retain the information you have read during your course of study.
Before We Move On To The Hacks, Let Us Get Some Insight On How Your Brain Works:
Our brain is a magnificent organ that knows exactly what to remember and what to forget. Every moment it interacts with heavy information. It chooses to let go of some of it, leaving us behind trying hard to recall something that we simply can’t.
Thanks to the information overload of a lifetime, our memory categorizes things into two types of memory:
- Short-term Memory: It is super sharp and consists of what we’re doing right now
- Long-term Memory: Sadly, not as bright as the former; is made up of all things in the past
You must sharpen your long-term memory because your study plan is spread over the long duration of 365 days.
Your aim must be to better encode information into your long-term memory to make it available even at a later date.
Now that you know what we are working towards, let’s get down to the practical part of this article: –
18 Powerful Techniques To Improve Your Long-term Memory Power
1. Take A Walk
Yes, you heard that right. Every time you exercise, your body releases a chemical called Endorphin.
Endorphins make you feel lighter, stress-free and positive. And these are exactly the emotions you will need before and after your hours of study. You must make it a point to take a walk before and after you study for your exams.
2. Pick The Right Spot To Study
Since you will be at your desk, everyday for a few hours, make sure that it is adaptable to your study needs.
- It must be uncluttered
- If possible, away from any internal/external noise
- Close to your bookshelf
- Well-stacked with required stationary
3. Study By Speaking It Out Loud
I know this might make everyone in your house hate you. But, this is a scientifically proven tip to remember whatever you are reading for a longer time. so, the next time you are reading your books, speak the words out loud.
4. Teach Others What You’ve Learned
It is the easiest to assume that you’ve completely understood what you have studied.
So why not test your knowledge?
The next time you read a topic, try explaining it to someone else. If you’ve understood the topic as it is and are able to teach it to the other person effectively, you’re on the right track!
5. Learn To Make Smart Notes
Just reading is not enough. Pick up a phrases, authorities, events, and keywords that highlight the topic you are studying and pen it down in your notes.
These notes are significant as you’ll be using these to revise rather than wasting your time reading the entire book again.
6. Make Up Mental Associations
You need to get creative with your study method. Every time you read about something, create a mental visualization wherein you connect the information studied with other relatable information. This kind of Mind Map will help you form associations between concepts that will promote memory recall at the mention of any of the connectors.
Let us understand it better with the diagram below.
You can use any of the following components to recall the main concept studied.
7. Learn To Draw Diagrams
Make this a regular practice. To recall information better, try to draw it out summarizing your understanding of the topic.
You can test the effectiveness of this method by going through the previous point. Compare the introductory paragraph and the diagram. You will understand instantly how powerful drawing a diagram can be.
8. Switch Off Your Phone During Study Hours
As simple as it reads. Your study hours demand your complete focus uninterruptedly. Every time you pick up your phone, you are breaking your train of concentration.
So, the next time you sit down to study, turn that cellphone off.
9. Adopt Video Study
Visual information always has longer memory retention. If you can find a video documentary on the topic you intend to study, you must watch it.
10. Make Use Of Google’s Search Engine
When you put in the mental effort to go online, open Google, put in your topic in the search engine, press enter, scan through the results page, click on a link, and study the page; you will definitely remember the particular piece of information for a longer time.
11. Don’t Forget To Take Short Breaks
After continuous study of 1 hour and 30 minutes, your brain starts to get tired. Give it a breather of around 10 minutes.
Get up from your chair, take a deep breath, stretch, have a glass of water, wash your face and close your eyes. After 10 minutes, your brain will be refreshed enough to take in and store information better.
12. Acronyms – Use It!
B = brackets
O = orders
D = division
M = multiplication
A = addition
S = subtraction
Wasn’t this one word the best shortcut to remember your mathematical sequence of methods?
When you are studying, try to make your own acronyms. This will help boost understanding, retention and recall for your exams.
Acrostics are words consisting of first letters of other words. You can use them to join longer concepts.
Let us see an example,
Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address on Nov 19, 1863
He wanted to honor Union soldiers martyred at the Battle of Gettysburg
Equality, freedom, and democracy were its main themes
Here, the acrostics AHE will remind you of your concept.
14. Method Of Loci / Mind Palace
This is especially helpful in remembering the sequence of events or authority figures.
Let us take an example of prime ministers of India:
Close your eyes and imagine that you’re entering your own palace. At the front gate, you meet Jawaharlal Nehru, and when you are stepping out, you bid goodbye to Narendra Modi.
I know it sounds silly. But imagining all the prime ministers (in this example) sequentially in different parts of your castle is a powerful tool to print it in your memory longer.
15. Revision Is Crucial
You must make it a point to revise whatever you’ve studied at least twice. Since the duration of study and syllabus is long, it is natural for your brain to black out on some information.
16. Practice Repetitive Writing
It is important to write and rewrite what all you have learned over a course of time. Just as reading and teaching concepts to others help aid memory retention and recall, writing does it too.
Practicing answer-writing repeatedly is important as your UPSC examination demands excruciating writing skills. Without practice, you will be left with sore fingers, no time, and multiple unanswered questions.
17. Try Group Study
Now don’t use this as an excuse to discuss all things under the sun that aren’t even remotely connected to your syllabus. Choose your group and topics wisely. Discuss and debate on topics.
18. Get Good Sleep
You must never compromise on the quality of your sleep. Less sleep will cloud your brain with stress and anxiety, and weaken your memory. Make it a point to sleep for a good 8 hours every night, to wake up refreshed the next morning.
Now that you know what to do to improve your Memory Power, I suggest you don’t waste any time and get right to implementing these in your life daily.