1. Build a “Memory Palace.”
The “memory palace” technique, also known as the method of loci, is an ancient Greek memory trick that uses visualization to recall information. To use it, think about a building or room you’re familiar with and associate each fact you need to learn with a feature of that room.
2. Mix up your study locations often.
You might think that having a favorite go-to study spot helps you get in the ~zone~, but studies show that mixing up your study locations can help you retain more new information.
3. Make up your own acronym…
Mnemonic devices like acronyms are sometimes so common that we forget they’re devices at all. For example, the word scuba actually means “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” Use a website like Acronymify to make up a your own acronym for other material you need to remember.
4. …or make up an acrostic.
Another mnemonic that you might not have known the word for is an “acrostic.” But you probably are familiar with one: the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” as a way to remember the order of operations in algebra. Make up your own acrostic to remember series of words (in order!) before an exam.
5. Take a three- to five-minute break every 25 minutes
This time management system is called the Pomodoro Technique, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer its founder used. It’s based on the principle that frequent breaks can help improve mental agility, without allowing the breaks to become time sucks.
6. Copy your notes by hand.
Even if you prefer to take notes on a laptop, it’s worth your time to recopy your notes by hand. A number of studies have shown that actually taking the time to form letters and words by hand is the key to learning and remembering.
7. Take a hike — seriously.
Walking (and, really, any exercise!) can improve your memory, studies find. So don’t ignore fitness when the stress of school or work hits!
8. Try the “chunking” method.
You might think remembering 10 random digits is impossible, but you actually do it all the time! Think about a phone number that you break into three chunks — the area code, the next three digits, and the last four. And there are lots of ways to apply this technique to other material too.
9. Don’t stop reviewing what you already know.
Studies have shown that repeated testing can help you consolidate what you already know. So don’t toss those flash cards to the side once you think you have them down pat.
10. Eat right!
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but studies show that what you eat actually has a pretty strong correlation with your ability to remember new material. Try a Mediterranean diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and olive oil for optimum brainpower!
11. Listen to your favorite music.
A recent study showed the surgeons performed better when they were able to listen to the music of their choice. So find the jams that work for you!