Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds.
Tryon Edwards (1809 - 1894)

Guide to Reflective Thinking: My Memorization Strategies

Use the following statements to assess your sense of competence with regard to university studies. Any weak areas indicate an attitude, ability or habit that may be worth developing.

  • I plan my memorization effortsI precisely determine the elements that I must memorize.
  • I estimate the time required to memorize something well (selecting the material to retain; preparing a checklist; interiorization; rehearsing; revision).
  • I set aside time for rehearsal and revision exercises in my agenda and on my list of tasks to do.
  • I appropriately format material to memorizeFirst and foremost I make sure that I understood and assimilated the material.
  • I can make clear links between the material and concrete reality.
  • I use words and images when appropriate.
  • I reduce texts to main ideas and key notions.
  • I organize the material by sets and subsets and in hierarchical and logical groups.
  • I condense the elements I must learn by heart onto personalized summary sheets and in the format of resumes, syntheses, tables, schemas, models, diagrams, or any other appropriate format depending on the case.
  • I design summary sheets that are highly visual: one page per summary, clear layout, graphics, colors, easy reference.
  • I use a system of study-material related codes, symbols and abbreviations to facilitate content perception and retention.
  • I practice by re-writing these summary sheets while explaining them to myself.
  • I make an effort to mentally visualize what I have learnedAfter a study session, I review and recite to myself the essential of what I have just learned (after a 10-minute break).
  • In the days to come (after a day, week, month), I make repeated efforts to remember what I have learned.
  • I regularly practice refresher and overall revision exercises.
  • I formulate my own questions and find their responses in order to better memorize the knowledge.
  • I review the material prior to and after a courseI only note the essential and, as much as possible, in my own words.
  • I review previously covered material before each course (the day, night or hour before).
  • I complete and organize my notes and review the course material as soon as possible after the course (the same night or following day).
  • Each month, I set aside time in my agenda to look over the material covered and left to cover.
  • I prepare for exams well in advanceRight at the start of a course, I obtain information about the nature of the exams: multiple choice questions, essay questions, problem-solving, case study, other.
  • For each exam, I determine what I must know by heart.
  • I develop memory tools that are appropriate to the exam format.
  • Several times during the semester, I verify my understanding and memorization.
  • I test myself and ask peers to test me.
  • I turn exam preparation into quiz games that I play alone or with peers.
  • The night before an exam, I stop studying and revising and I relax.
  • I avoid last minute cramming.
  • When I write exams, I quickly read each question and note all that spontaneously comes to mind, to unload my memory, and then I take each question one by one in a more relaxed manner.

It's impossible to be competent at something if you have no memory, and there can be no learning without memorisation. All areas of study include concepts, theories and specific models that need to be understood and assimilated, sequences of operations and actions that need to be practiced until they become automatic. The ability to memorise data can be developed at any age, provided at least that you know the basics of how human memory works and develop appropriate strategies.

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