How to Improve Memorisation during Final Exams

Heike Verhoef - 22 Jan 22

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Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

By the time you’ve reached the end of this post, you likely won’t remember it all... Unless you implement these easy practices for improving your memorisation. Our brains can store a countless amount of information - around the equivalent of three million hours of TV shows. That’s pretty epic, right? You can enhance your memory and improve information retention by making a few study- or even lifestyle changes. When you find yourself asking how to study for final exams, keep these dorKk-approved tricks in mind when you do revision and preparation. dorKk is a curriculum aligned online learning platform designed to supplement your education and exam revision so that every learner can ace their exams. The dorKk e-learning platform has extra lessons for grades 1 to 3 and 10 to 12 lessons (with grades 4 to 9 coming soon!) for a variety of subjects presented by qualified and experienced teachers.

Engage in physical exercise

Information retention is greater when you are in a good mood. Nothing elevates your mood the way exercise does. This is due to the release of endorphins - those feel-good chemicals produced by your nervous system.

Exercise also improves cognitive abilities. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don't” and slow, focused movement like tai chi can enhance planning, working memory, attention, problem-solving, and verbal reasoning.

So when you are wondering how you can get the best out of your exam preparation, keep in mind that regular exercise will help improve your ability to retain information. There is no doubt that exam time is stressful, make sure to find some balance in your life and take care of your physical health too.

Use mnemonic devices

There are also some practical tools you can employ to help you recall information easier during examinations. A tried and tested trick you can use that is guaranteed to help you prepare for exams efficiently, is mnemonic devices.

Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help you remember concepts by using patterns and associations like rhymes, songs, images or acronyms.

Some common mnemonic devices you might have come across include BODMAS or SvTOMPvI.
  • BODMAS is an acronym used in mathematics to quickly and accurately recall the order of operations in algebra. Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction)
  • SvTOMPvI is used in Afrikaans FAL to help you remember the correct order of words when building sentences in Afrikaans
Try and come up with your own fun mnemonic devices to help you with memorisation as you study for exams. Share them with us on Instagram at dorkk_online.

Use visual aids

Many students are “visual learners”. This means the use of graphics and images can promote learning and assist in improving memorisation. If you think that you are a visual learner, then dorKk is certainly for you. dorKk offers video lessons that make extensive use of visual aids to enhance learning. If you would rather watch a video than read a textbook, dorKk is a perfect fit for you!

A well known and simple way to include visual aids in your learning is mind maps. Mind mapping is a great way to engage visual learners as it condenses information into summarised and visually presented content that “supports learning, improves information recording and shows how different facts and ideas are related”.

Using visual aids can also break the monotony of studying for exams. It can make learning more interesting! If you make learning more fun and interactive then retaining the information you are studying is easier.

There are many techniques you can employ to increase information retention. Here are some additional quick tips to improve memory formation and recollection for longer:

Teach someone else

When you teach the work to someone else, for example, a parent, a sibling or your study buddy, you get a chance to explain concepts in your own words. This promotes comprehension which will ultimately improve your chance of recalling the information at a later stage.

Get to know yourself

Identify what time of day you are most focused on and do the most intensive studying during these hours. If you create favourable conditions for learning you will reap the benefits when it comes to remembering it later.

Take breaks

Take them often, but be mindful about how you spend your break time. Give your brain time to rest between study sessions so that you don’t become fatigued and pay less attention. You don’t want to read the same sentence three times, so don’t rush your study time!

Sleep on it

There are 3 steps to memorisation: creation, consolidation and recollection. Consolidation takes place when you’re sleeping. This means even when you are getting some shut-eye, your brain sorts and commits information to memory. Pretty nifty, right?

Make notes

Simply rewriting what you read won’t really do the trick. Try and summarise the material, one concept, problem or idea at a time. Putting things into your own words means you’re engaging with the content actively. This will promote memory formation in the process.

Test yourself

Practising recollection before the actual exam will definitely help with information retention. Have someone quiz you or use apps like Quizlet to help you. By testing yourself you are also repeating work and repetition will promote memorisation.

Make use of these tricks to promote memorisation and if you want more tips on how to prepare for final exams, check out this article on 11 effective study tips to help you with exam preparation.

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