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Board exams: 10 tips to improve your memory

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST
Here are 10 ways you can exercise your mind to improve concentration.

Let us begin with a disclaimer that examinations need more of thinking and reasoning faculties than mere powerful memories.

Yet, having a perfect recall memory is surely an asset, especially when you are preparing for the upcoming board examination.

Here are 10 practical tips on how you can improve your memorisation skills.

1. Always look at the big picture

Human brain is blessed with Gestalt effect -- it looks at the entirety of things, the so-called sky view.

This enables forming a sense of meaning, rather than staying lost in parts and in detail.

So, make a large chart, put all formulae, typical questions, vocabulary words, mnemonics on it.

Frequently visiting this chart keeps things in right perspective and details stick on without undue effort.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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2. Scribble as you read

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

As you read and try memorising, scribble like mad.

Just keep on moving your pen or pencil on a scratch paper, even illegibly -- it doesn't matter how clearly you write.

You would be surprised at how much this inditing contributes to keeping things in memory safe and protected for eternity.

3. Rattle what you've learnt

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Try mouthing all that you have learnt -- keep on mumbling it all.

Ask anyone to take your viva -- as rapid a pace as possible.

Just turn all content to a reflex level retrieval competence. Keep everything as randomised as possible.

The trap most average people fall in is to revise in an orderly systematic fashion.

Does your exam ask for recall in a systematic way? No!

So welcome disorderliness and entropy.

Let there be noise in environment and confusion all around as you appear in such vivas.

You would be amazed at your concentration powers.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

4. Connect the dots

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Thinking and memorising are not God gifted talents.

These are as learnable as is playing tennis or swimming is(with all its strokes, can you recall them all?).

Human brain has pattern making ability, so try connecting dots, try seeing link between apparently unrelated bits and bytes of information.

This establishes meaning-deciphering prowess, which is the best binder for memory.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

5. Use cards

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Keep flash cards, flip through them many times a day.

You needn't carry neatly made flash cards, the vague scribblings you had, with multiple over-writings serve as well.

In fact it is fun, trying to read through your illegible stuff.

6. Be tough

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Be merciless with yourself.

Try tougher questions, even beyond the expected syllabi.

Try learning massive sets of data.

Stretch your mind.

And lo! what do you discover, your mind has much more storing capability than you ever thought.

Venture into the realm of beyond.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

7. Recall the position

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Memories are said to be auditory and visual.

Many excelling students seem to remember the location of a question in their book -- Ummm... lower right corner OR somewhere in middle of left page.

Sounds fun?

Put yourself through this drill, trying to recall where in the book was what you read – what preceded that, what succeeded that.

Recall in your chart the position of specific information. Easy and cool stuff, right!

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

8. Make it interesting

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

I tend to recall exact details of my school time geography, history, literature, biology, what a class 12 student finds elusive.

How does it happen, that what we studied many decades back, still sticks in the mind, without any revision over years.

Since whatever is done, first time itself, with interest, is always a no brainer.

Whatever is studied without interest, and forced in, goes volatile, so to say.

Find out what is interesting about what you are reading.

After all, it must be interesting to many other humans, why not you?

Learn to look at things with fresh curious eyes.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

9. Practice till you perfect it

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

The idea is not how much effort is to be invested towards perfect recall; rather the idea is you keep on working on the stuff till you master it.

We all are different individuals, on some things we catch quicker than others, on some slower.

That's okay.

Just work extra hard on the slippery things, and bask in glory as you encounter easier things you find yourself facile in.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

10. Forget and test

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 15:40 IST

Try forgetting.

This shouldn't be difficult, after all you keep on forgetting, right?

So try figuring out which part of the whole map you are likely to forget, come up with reasons why that part seems tough to remember.

This seems stupid, but this works very well.

And don't forget to write in how you became a memory whizkid.