The prospect of having to memorize anything, be it vocabulary words or grammar rules in another language, dates for a history class, mathematical or scientific formulas or anything else can be terrifying to college students. In reality, memorizing doesn’t have to be a horrible ordeal. It can be something very easy to do, provided you go about learning what you need to learn systematically.
There are many ways by which to learn how to memorize. Here are some pretty full proof ones that can’t fail.
*Don’t procrastinate –
There are different types of memorization. Some is quite straightforward and easy to master. Some is quite difficult and won’t be mastered overnight. Make sure you plan your time so that you aren’t faced with having to memorize chapters of vocabulary words for your French mid-term exam tomorrow.
*When memorization is cumulative –
With foreign languages and some other classes, the stuff you memorize will be cumulative. That means that you will need to know the things that you memorize now all throughout the rest of the semester. You can’t memorize things and then forget about them. Make sure you keep abreast of old information while you are memorizing the new stuff.
One of the easiest and surest ways to get yourself to remember things is by repetition. That means, sometimes you can memorize things quite easily by just going over the things you need to memorize from your class or reading notes. You can rewrite things as a way to solidify the ideas, words or concepts in your mind. Simply recopy your notes and as you do so, repeat the things over in your head.
You can also put Post-It-Notes in strategic places like your bathroom mirror or kitchen cabinets. Every time you see your notes, drill yourself and repeat the things you need to memorize. You can recite the things you need to memorize out loud as you cook, dress or anything else.
*Use flash cards –
Flash cards are ages old, but sometimes old things really work. Flash cards are an ideal way to learn vocabulary words for foreign languages, important historical dates, events, concepts, scientific terms, math formulas or other unambiguous things. On one side of a card, you write a word or concept. On the other side, you write the definition of the word or the meaning of the concept.
*Use the information –
If the information you have to memorize is dates, a handy thing to do is to create a timeline using the dates you need to know. As part of your timeline, you will have to include the important information about that date.
If it’s a mathematical theorem or formula, work on exercises in which you have to apply that information. If you have to know that information in order to solve the equation, you will learn these things much more solidly than you would if you simply tried to memorize them.
If the information you need to memorize is vocabulary words for a foreign language, make yourself use those words in sentences. If it’s grammar, make yourself compose sentences using the grammar you need to know.
Learn to create associations. When you can relate information to other information in your class and put it all together, you are not only successfully memorizing the material you have to memorize; you are integrating all of that knowledge in you mind so that you have a complete understanding of the course material.
*Working with a partner –
Having a buddy with whom you can study is often a great way to solidify things you need to memorize. You can quiz one another back and forth and discuss things when you encounter difficulties. Helping someone else can often do more to help you than you realize. You can also draw up pretend quizzes for one another and use the quiz as a way to drill each other on the things you need to memorize.
*Talking out loud to yourself –
Walk around your house repeating things to yourself over and over again. For things like foreign language grammar, simply conjugate verbs out loud, decline nouns or anything else out loud. You can do this when you’re in the shower, when you’re washing dishes, when you’re cooking, cleaning house or anything else.
*Make lists –
Sometimes having a list of things you need to memorize can be very helpful. You can carry the list with you as you ride the bus to campus, walk from building to building, wait outside a class room for a class to begin or when you have some time to study on campus. Having a list to refer to when you are at home can make for better organization and easier memorizing.
The important thing to remember is that unless you have a photographic or near photographic memory and can remember anything you see simply by looking at it once, learning how to memorize efficiently will require some practice and trial and error. The more you can repeat things to yourself, either by writing them down, saying them to yourself mentally or aloud, the more solidly you will reinforce what you need to memorize. Using flash cards and other methods are useful, but they never substitute for the repetition as reinforcement method of memorization. Once you’ve had the experience of having to memorize things on several occasions, you will learn that the more often you can force yourself to remember what you need to remember, the more likely it will be that that stuff sticks. If you pace yourself so that you can memorize things over time, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll forget what you need to know when it comes time to take a test.