two students studyingSo, you’ve planned your study schedule, attended tutorials and met up with friends. All of this is done in an effort to conquer those midterms and finals, but you still have one major problem – remembering what you’ve reviewed. We want to make sure you can ace those upcoming exams so we turned to the experts for some strategies which can be used to improve memory while studying.

Dr. Monique Blake, associate dean of Academic Resources and the Academic Success Centers, says the keys to success are where, how and when we study. Here’s her list of recommendations:

Find a place to study that is comfortable but also has limited-to-no distractions. “We don’t often think about it,” she explained, “but any speech or speech-like sounds such as music automatically use up part of the brain’s attention capacity.”

Identify which method of studying works best. Dr. Blake explained that not every method of studying is suitable for every student. Over time you will be able to determine if studying in a group or alone, at nights or during the day works for you. Whatever method makes the information stick – then that’s the one for you.

Study for courses that have similar materials/topics at the same time. Reviewing material that’s similar in nature makes it easier to remember and connect information as well as create greater mental associations.

Study course material soon after class. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before but Dr. Blake says research has proven that it’s best to study course material after class when the information is fresh in your mind as it helps with retention.

Identify when tests and assignments are due. Store this information in a planner, electronic device (s) etc. This helps your brain to prioritize and focus especially when doing assignments as it is reminded that the information it is processing is important.

Here are a few other tips we found that could help your brain with its retention abilities:

  • Sleep. Healthy sleep puts us in the right state of mind to take in information as we go about the day.
  • Exercise. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t.
  • Never study on an empty stomach. Glucose improves memory, that’s why memory formation is better after a meal.
  • Write Things Out. There’s good evidence that the act of writing itself helps us remember things better. As we’re writing, we create connections between the information we are recording.

This is not an exhaustive list and there’s always more you can do to help improve studying and memory. Remember our Academic Success Centers are equipped with professionals who can help you formulate a plan. For some courses, one on one tutoring or group tutoring sessions may be available.