Of all the things that I memorized in school, I really can only recall one: present tense verbs in Spanish. This might have been because, in my summers during college, I worked in a cotton mill sewing remnants together. To help make the days less tedious, I practiced my Spanish verbs. When you considered all the memorization, I did in high school and college, my retention rate was not terribly high. Maybe my approach was wrong headed.
Last week, a colleague sent me this article on better ways to memorize. And I realized that I had failed in two major ways.
- I had done too much cramming in college. I tried to memorize everything I needed for a test in a very short time. My brain held the information for the exam, but soon after, it was gone. The better way to memorize something is to space it out: A certain amount of time each day is much better than the same amount of time pushed into one or two days. Fortunately, you can often work in these periods into a daily routine. You can go as low tech as flash cards or download an app.
- I also tried to memorize in isolation. Research shows that it’s easier to remember ideas that we understand the subject. Unfortunately, for some of us, we try to memorize WHEN we don’t understand, hoping that pure memory will carry us through on a test. So it’s imperative to understand the concepts and how they relate to each other if you need to memorize material for a course.
If you are looking for some helpful apps to download, here are some suggestions.
Mind Vault: The Memorization Assistant ($2.99) (Apple)
There are lots of flash cards apps. Here are three as well as some reviews of others:
Flashcards from Brainscape (free)
Flashcards Deluxe ($3.99)
Click here for an article on apps for Android users.