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Improve your memory

Here are some useful tips from BU’s Dr Andy Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, to help your memory and the effectiveness of your revision:

Test yourself

The 'student illusion’ refers to a false belief that simply reading over your notes will be an adequate revision strategy. In fact, this is a very poor strategy. Memory is affected by how deeply you process the to-be-remembered information. Simply reading over the information is shallow, or superficial, processing and will result in weak memory. A far better strategy is to test yourself - perhaps, create some revision cue-cards and repeatedly test yourself on that information. Research has shown that testing yourself results in far more items being remembered. However, make sure that each time you test yourself you check the information is correct, otherwise, you might be reinforcing memory for the wrong content.

It's also been shown that revision improves when you include a gap between repetitions - so rather than cram all your revision into a single session, space out your revision schedule so that you are self-testing the same content over a number of revision sessions.

Pre-sleep revision

Information learnt before sleep has been shown to be remembered better. When you are asleep, you are not being exposed to new information/new memories. As a result, there is less opportunity for the stuff learnt just prior to sleep to be interfered with by new memories, and, as a result, these memories become stronger. It may be useful, therefore, to re-cap on the information learnt that day before going to bed. This will enable better consolidation of those memories.

Re-create the revision environment

When we learn information, we do not do this in a vacuum; the to-be-remembered information becomes associated with the environment (or context) in which that information is being learnt. Re-instating that context can act as a cue for the revised information since those two things are linked. Therefore, if you always revise in your bedroom, when in the exam, imagine being in your bedroom as this may help to cue the information learnt in that environment. Or, if you always, for example, eat mints whilst revising, take some mints into the exam.