As if sitting at a desk and studying wasn’t hard enough, trying to retain all the information you’ve learnt is even more difficult. Whether you’re at high school or university, the combination of exam nerves and time management stress can prevent you from doing your best. But don’t worry, there are certain techniques that you can adapt to help improve your memory and achieve good grades. Here are our top seven study tips and how you can retain your memory.
How to study for a test
Before getting into how to retain all the information you’ve learnt, it’s best to look into the most efficient ways to study and the various techniques to get your brain working.
1. Organise a study space
The first study tip is possibly the riskiest as you can waste a lot of time cleaning when you should be revising. However, spending a bit of time getting your desk organised and creating enough space for a good study session can clear your mind. Use this time to get rid of any nearby distractions that could make you lose focus, for example, magazines or your phone.
Set the lighting and add background music if that helps you. Classical music is a popular option as it can elevate your mood without featuring lyrics which could distract you. For more advice on choosing the best study music for you, click here.
2. Establish a study routine
Once you’ve established a study space, set aside some study time. Make a timetable for which days you’ll revise each topic. Do this well in advance, setting aside a few hours each day so you don’t have to cram too much into the final days prior to your exam. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout as this helps your brain to absorb the information you’ve read while making you feel motivated.
According to Inc, the US Army’s research institute found that breaks every 90 minutes help boost concentration. But if stretching to 90 minutes is too hard, a break after 50 minutes will also be beneficial to your brain health.
3. Adopt studying techniques
The most important of our study tips is this learning method. The SQ3R method is a successful way of retaining a piece of information. This stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Simply survey the chapter before you read, question which parts are important to you, then read the chapter with this in mind. To ensure this stays in your short-term memory, recite what you’ve just read and review it in days to come. Read more about the SQ3R method here.
Related: How to Have a Productive All-Nighter
How to remember what you study for exams
Once you’ve mastered those study skills, it’s helpful to look at how to improve your memory and retain the information you’ve learnt. These techniques will ensure your brain stays sharp.
1. Exercise regularly
A study published back in 2001 tested both rat brains and human brains to work out how to improve memory. They found that regular exercise improves cognitive functions, therefore helping you retain what you’ve studied. So, going for a jog after studying could increase your heart rate and your brain power. Not only that, but research conducted by the University of Illinois revealed that even a 20-minute walk before an exam improves performance. So try to head to your exam by foot!
2. Chew gum to retain your memory
There isn’t a lot of solid evidence behind this one. However, studies suggest chewing gum while learning a piece of information makes you more likely to recall it quickly later on. A reason for this could be that chewing gum increases activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that deals with learning and memory. They also say if you study with an unfamiliar scent around and then spray the scent just before the exam, you’ll be able to recall what you’ve learnt.
3. Drink coffee to improve your memory consolidation
Another way to retain your memories is by drinking coffee. Although coffee seems vital before you start studying, it has very little effect on your memory. The best time to make a brew is after your study session, as it helps you recall what you’ve learnt. One study found that taking a caffeine pill helped improve memory recall for up to 24 hours after learning something.
4. Sleep more to help with long-term memory
Last but not least is possibly every student’s favourite of the study tips. Sleeping has been proven to help convert short-term memories into long-term ones, as it’s when most of our consolidation process occurs. This is why we suffer from memory loss is we haven’t had a sufficient night’s rest. A 20-minute nap on your study breaks could help you retain information, as long as you don’t end up sleeping for hours. As well as the occasional bit of shut eye, make sure to get adequate rest the nights leading up to your exams.
We hope you’ve found these study tips helpful! Do you have any of your own exam tips? Let us know in the comments!