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How to actually remember your notes these holidays

By Charlie Hale on 9 July 2018Study tipsHSCNSWblog

Unless you have a memory to beat that of even Marilu Henner’s (we’ll pause here so you can Google…), the next couple of months leading up to trials are probably going to be taken up with revisiting the content you learnt in term 1.

We’ve brought you many a weird and wonderful study tip, but in the name of actually being able to have some fun these holidays, we’ve come up with a 5-step guide on how to remember everything you read, pretty much first time around.

Step 1: Get yourself familiar with the topic first

Before you dive headfirst into the juicy centre of information that is your notes, you’re going to want to gain as much background knowledge as you can. Basically the more you understand about a particular subject, the more associations you’re going to make between what you’re reading and what you already know. Which basically translates to: you’re more likely to remember it.

If you think this sounds like a lot of work, think again, dear reader. The best way you can get yourself familiar with the topic is by kicking back, cracking open a packet of Maltesers and watching one of our Atomi videos. It’s that easy.

Step 2: Take notes on the page

This isn’t about starting the note forming process, it’s just about being an active reader – the type that’s not staring blankly at the same word for several minutes. So grab yourself a pencil and start underlining and circling sentences and words you find confusing, interesting or important. Squiggle stars, insert notes, draw diagrams to visually present key ideas, go to town. Not only will engaging with the text make you remember it better, but it will also keep the reading process moving at a pace so you’re not re-reading the same sentence over and over without it ever going in.

Step 3: Read out loud

You don’t have to read everything out loud, that would get boring very quickly. But whilst you’re scribbling lines and notes across the page, read out loud those key sentences and words you need to remember. Repeating the important sentences out loud a few times will embed them into your memory because they will take on a distinctiveness. Since you’re selecting only the key phrases, your memory for them will be different from the memory of the words you read silently.

Step 4: Impress, associate, repeat.

You might have heard of this three-pronged memory process before, but if you haven’t, it’s a great skill to apply during any of your study and works really well when it comes to getting stuff to stick!
The first part is all about impression the text makes on you. The way to make that impression stronger, is to picture the situation in your mind or, where possible, envision yourself participating in the events described. Really imagine it in your head as you’re reading.

The second part is association. We’ve already touched a bit on this in the first step, but it basically involved linking the material to something you already know. The more associations you can make the better. For example, a date you have to remember could be made up of the age you’re turning next year and your mum’s age. Or maybe a word rhymes with one of your friend’s names. It can be as weird as you like, but the point is that you’re linking the information to stuff you already know.

The last part is repetition and this is true for everything you want to remember. The more you revisit stuff, the stronger your memory will be. You don’t have to reread everything again, but you can go back to the highlighted parts, which is where all those squiggles and lines you drew will come in good use.

Step 5: Explain the information to others

Apply, apply, apply. Applying your knowledge is what makes it stick most of all. That’s why we’re all so crazy about past papers over here, in case you hadn’t noticed. But one of the easiest ways you can apply what you’ve just read, is by explaining the ideas to someone else: a friend, your mum, your dog, or even yourself, in the mirror.

If you can confidently talk to someone else about it, then you’ve successfully taken in the information.

We’re not going to say these five steps are 100% fail safe, but as a first course of action, they’re mighty effective.

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