The demands of private school classes, particularly in middle and high school, can require students to learn and remember huge amounts of material, particularly for final exams. Some students, while bright, struggle to retain information in their short-term and long-term memory, making it difficult to use this information and produce it on assessments and in class. Problems with memory consolidation can be frustrating, as students who do the work often find themselves unable to prove that they know the material.
Good study skills include methods to improve memory. Here are some memory tips to help students improve memory.
Tip 1: Use Sound Studying Techniques
The most important memory tip is to study actively and to space out one's studying to avoid cramming and to allow for memory consolidation. In order to retain information, students have to practice good study skills, including techniques for active reading.
Rather than just reading passively, students should annotate their reading, underlining key passages, putting question marks next to what they haven’t understood, and writing summaries of their reading. They can also take notes on what they read. This type of review helps them transfer information to their long-term memory and helps them connect it to what they already know, improving memory consolidation. Simply reading a text will not help students internalize the information as much as actively reading it and taking notes. In general, strategies for improving memory rely on repetition over time, which allows students to internalize information. Students' test preparation is most effective when they have used effective study skills to prepare for tests.
Tip 2: Use Technology
Some forms of technology help students improve memory by helping them retain information in their long-term memory. These programs help students with test preparation as well. For example, the free online program Quizlet enables students to create flash cards for different types of material they are studying—whether it is Spanish verbs, SAT vocabulary, or historical facts.
The program allows students to quiz themselves, and it presents them with the questions they answered incorrectly again and again until they get the questions right. This type of repetition is essential to transferring information into one’s long-term memory, and students can store their flash cards and return to them over time, enabling them to use more repetition over time. Students can also use paper flash cards too—as long as they keep reviewing them. In general, it’s helpful to review information over time, rather than cramming the night before a test. These study skills will help students transfer information to their long-term memory.
Tip 3: Get Enough Sleep
One of the most important memory tips is to get to bed early. Students who do not sleep enough on a regular basis may find that sleep debt hurts their ability to store information in their memory. Research has shown that sleep helps students cement information in their long-term memory, and, without it, students may find their memories impaired (at least until they get enough sleep). Students need to practice good sleep hygiene, such as turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and starting to unwind before their bedtimes. Such strategies will improve their overall health and well-being as well. Research has shown that many private school students do not sleep enough, and sleep deprivation can impair students' memory consolidation.
Tip 4: Figure Out if There is A Larger Issue
Some students may find themselves struggling with memorization because of larger learning issues, such as ADHD or a learning disability. ADHD may interfere with a students’ ability to memorize or retain information, as the student may be contending with inattention or distractibility while learning. Inattention may interfere with the student’s ability to take in the information, retain it in his or her short-term memory, and store it in his or her long-term memory. If a student, teacher, or parent suspects that larger issues, such as ADHD or learning disabilities, are part of the picture, the student may benefit from having an educational evaluation, which looks at how the student learns and at each of the student’s many cognitive or brain functions, including memory. This information can often help students, teachers, and parents understand what is getting in a student’s way and find recommendations to help the student perform better.