If you’re a student then you’ll know that the exam hall usually does something extraordinary to your brain. It makes it blank! No matter how hard you’ve revised, exams nerves can quite often get the better of a lot of people.
The lucky ones find that the moment they start writing, a lot of the stuff they revised usually comes flooding back.
There are many things you can do that will help recall all the information you’ve tried squeezing into your head in a short space of time.
This article is designed to help you increase your confidence when it comes to dealing with your exams.
Are You Organized?
Being organized is fundamental to good exam preparation. Disorganization and chaos are the biggest hindrances to exam success. Things like a cluttered desk, messy exam notes, handwriting that YOU can’t even read won’t get you very far. All these things ultimately spell disaster from the word go.
My advice would be to start off by tidying your study space. This could be your bedroom, your office or wherever you prefer doing it. Neatly organize your notes into categories. It’s a proven fact that by simply decluttering your work environment improves performance and most importantly, your memory.
Have You Heard about “Mind Palaces?”
Mind Palaces refers to the technique of connecting mental images of things you have to remember. For instance, you have a water bottle on your work desk. Next to the water bottle is a bunch of post it notes. Next to the post it notes is a calculator. Can you see where I’m going with this? Look how much information you have taken in by visualizing this! Thinking about the objects in this much depth and visualizing it means you are likely to retain maximum information easier than simply reading off a piece of paper.
It becomes easier to add-on information to whatever you’re trying to remember. All you do is add another room to your imaginary “palace”. All you have to remember is the route to the new room!
Mnemonics refers to a technique where information is translated into an alternative form that’s much easier to remember than simply reading and trying to remember information. A good way of implementing this technique is taking the first letter or letters in words and creatively formulating a memorable phrase. A classic example is remembering the bearings on a compass. This is something I’ve grown up with…north east south west is better remembered as “never eat shredded wheat!”
Rhymes definitely stick in the brain. Using “The Greatest” as an example, Ali was great in talking in rhymes. Just look how the world remembers his “famous” sayings. So if you’re creative with words get your creativity hat on and start rhyming your revision!
Do you have a photographic memory?
Some people are blessed with a photographic memory. So if you happen to be one of these individuals, make the most of it! Combining images with text can help reinforce what you’ve learnt. Recalling information can be relatively easy because all you have to do is revisit the image and all the information you need will be there!
For those of you that don’t have a photographic memory, using images can also help. Things like flow charts, mind maps and spider diagrams have shown to benefit revision sessions.
This is linked to rhyming. Look at it this way. We all remember where we were, or what we were doing when we hear certain songs from the past. Music sticks in the brain more than trying to remember what the book you read 6 years ago was all about.
The key here is to formulate alternative lyrics to your favorite tunes. I knew one kid from high school who used to do this and he got one of the highest results in the whole school.
There is no substitute for practical experience. For instance, if you are a law student and your revision involves the court procedure in whatever country you maybe in. I bet my bottom dollar that if you spent even a couple of days sitting in and watching court hearings, you will remember that experience quite comprehensively than if you were to simply read out of a book.
So where possible, get out there and physically experience things that are relevant.
Smell and memory connection
Your sense of smell is one of the most powerful recollectors of past events. How many times have you smelt something and immediately it took you back to where you were the last time you smelt that smell?
This may sound absolutely absurd but try dabbing your wrist in a particular perfume when studying a particular subject. I kid you not, by spraying the same smell on your exam day will make remembering your revision efforts that much easier.
Make up a story
I remember when I was doing my law degree I had to learn a lot of case law. My memory was absolutely pitiful in that regard because I’d either remember the case name and citation, or what happened in the case, but never the two at the same time. For those of you that are studying or have studied law will know the importance of remembering both things.
To get round this, I started by memorizing the case title, and the characters concerned. Then around that I jotted a short story on similar lines to what happened in the actual case but in my own words, and in my own mental setting. Not only did this help me pass all my exams, I walked away with a law degree with honors!
Sleep is of paramount importance when trying to consolidate things you’re trying to keep in your memory.
A good night sleep will put you in good stead, especially the night before your big exam. Try to get enough sleep whether you got exams or not, and this will ensure you perform better, retain more info in your brain, and stave off tiredness and fatigue, the last things you need during exam time.
Look at it this way. The important task of transferring information from your short term memory into your long term memory can only occur when you’re zonked out.