The Secrets to Boosting your Memory and Understanding
Many people struggle with a lack of comprehension no matter how much they try. Some have even attributed it to being natural or innate. Many now believe that no matter how they try, that some things are just not within their level of comprehension and as such is above their comprehension capacity.
This has contributed greatly to the poor performances of some persons, the lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. However, research has it that no man has been able to make use of one-third of the brain capacity; not even the most intelligent person. You see, the problem is not that your brain lacks the capacity but you have refused to allow the brain to show its capacity.
The brain has the capacity to replicate whatever information committed into it as long as it is committed in the right place. In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how to improve your comprehension capacity and excel in any area of life.
- Understand yourself:
- Studying, and not just reading:
- Repetitive study/constant study:
- Try explaining in your own understanding:
- Taking down notes:
- Space your study time:
- Use of mnemonics:
- Study/Discussion groups:
- Teach someone else:
- Frequently examine yourself:
- Ask questions:
- Healthy feeding:
- Use bright lights:
Do a background study of your body psychology, intellect, your mode of learning, etc. For instance, some persons comprehend better in a serene environment while some understand better in a noisy environment. You can comprehend better by reading out while some understand better by reading inside of them.
Some understand better by studying and doing other things like eating, scratching their head, chewing gum, etc while others learn better by staying calm without any disturbance. Some understand better by walking around while some understand by sitting at a place with all their mind focused.
The time of the day also affects our ability to understand. Find out if you learn more during the day (afternoon) or better at night or midnight or before daybreak. Your psychology and mode of learning are unique to you; identify yours and stick to them. Do not try to copy another person’s modes of learning.
Studying, and not just reading:
Even though studying and reading are familiar terms within the learning process, but there’s a very big difference between studying and reading. It’s unfortunate that so many people do not know the differences. It is easier for someone to understand, retain and reproduce an information that he got from studying more than the one he got from reading.
Reading is a process of going through or perusing through a topic within a given subject in order to gain information from it. In reading even though you may understand what you read but remembering may not necessarily be crucial and less time is involved in reading.
Studying involves researching and learning and being able to explain it in your own words. In studying it is important to remember everything and much time and efforts are involved. Studying involves extensive reading that will cause questions to arise in your heart concerning the topic. You will ask questions like ‘why to what you are reading’, ‘how to what you are reading’ etc. For a better understanding, study not just read!
Repetitive study/constant study:
It has been ascertained that the brain has long term and short term memory. Things committed into the short term memory cannot be retained for a very long time but that in the long term memory can. Repetitive or constant studying of a topic does not only did I comprehension but also commits the information into our long term memory and as such information cannot be lost.
Right from our nursery and primary school that we were taught things like reciting the English alphabets, counting numbers etc. till now you are a graduate you can still recite them off hand even though you weren’t taught in your Secondary school and University. This is the power of constant study! If you’re finding anything difficult to understand, try studying it constantly and before you know it you’ll understand it. Repetition lays more emphasis.
Try explaining in your own understanding:
The proof that you understand something is your ability to explain the same thing in your own words such that someone else or a lay man can understand it with no loss of meaning from the original meaning. This is is the reason cramming is discouraged.
Anything crammed cannot be explained in another way and it vanishes from the memory after some time. After studying, explain what you’ve studied in another term using your own words.
Taking down notes:
One way to learn anything fast is by taking down notes as you read, study or even taught. Some persons use their phones, palmtops or laptops to do this but it is not as effective as when done with pen and paper. This is why you need to always have your pen and paper to write down things whenever inspiration comes.
Writing down the information with your hands leads to a higher level of comprehension and retention and this is why this is the most preferred method of note taking. This strategy has been proven by research, that those who write down notes retain substantially more information than those who don’t.
Space your study time:
A research at Louisiana state University has indicated that a session lasting from 30 to 50 minutes will allow the student make the most of the available time and understand better. Studying for so long at a stretch may result to a waste of time and effort because you may not be able to reproduce some if not all the information you heard.
Always take a ten-minute break between each study session before proceeding to the next session. Again, studying a particular topic for a very long period of time may lead to a lack of comprehension. So, always change to another topic when it seems you are no longer understanding the other one. Do not insist on finishing it before you stop, otherwise, it’ll be a waste of time.
Use of mnemonics:
A mnemonic is a good memory aid. It can help us remember an idea or phrase with a pattern of letters, numbers, or relatable associations. Mnemonic tools include improvising acronyms, songs, diagrams, and images to help us remember better.
Mnemonic, from the Greek phrase “mimnēskesthai” means “to remember”. Mnemonics are cheat codes for those who struggle with memorizing a certain complicated subject, list, or concept. They make use of more memorable phrases that tie the concepts we want to memorize to our minds. Mnemonics work because our minds tend to remember information to which we can relate or experience.
Different types of mnemonics:
>Connection Mnemonics: Connection mnemonics are used when one can make a connection between something already known and the new thing to memorize. Eg. Imagine if you met someone whose name is George Bush. You can remember his name by relating to a cartoon you watched with the name of the protagonist as George who lived in the bush(jungle).
> Image / Model Mnemonics: We can use real images and models. They are very helpful for visual learners, or learners who memorize well with graphs, charts, images.
> Music Mnemonics: This type of mnemonic is self-explanatory: many of us simply remember better when the music goes along with the phrase or concept we are learning. A simple example of this is using the ‘ABC’ song to learn the alphabet and ‘123’ for numbers.
> Name Mnemonics: With this type of mnemonics, the first letters of the words within a phrase are used to form a name. Memorization of the name allows for the memorization of the associated idea.
For example, ROYGBIV is a name used to remember the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Also, BODMAS Brackets, Order, Division/Multiplication, Addition/Subtraction or Brackets, Of Division/Multiplication, Addition/ Subtraction. Another example is the acronym
PEMDAS is common in the United States. It stands for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction. PEMDAS is often expanded to the mnemonic “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”
> Name of Expression Mnemonics: In this common type of mnemonic, the first letter of each word in the phrase is used to create new words with a memorable phrase. One example of this is the 7 coordinating conjunctions For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So which create FANBOY.
>Note Organization / Outline Mnemonics: One simple way of remembering things better is simply by organizing information. You can organize information by creating notecards to practice studying terms and definitions and to create outlines of one’s notes.
Example, in giving a report you can arrange in this way:° What happened° When it happened° Why it happened° How it happened° Who was affected or there, etc.
> Spelling Mnemonics: They are patterns, or phrases we can use to internalize difficult spellings and words. Here are a few common examples:° Never believe a lie.° Mad: Make A Difference.° There’s a rat in separate.° Because: Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants.
If possible form a group comprising of at most four persons whom you can study together with and engage in discussions when necessary. Having a study group has a way of spurring and challenging one to do better.
Discussion with these people helps you retain better what you heard from them which may even be the second time after being taught. It’s more like being retaught, and it sticks better then.
Teach someone else:
This is another proven way of understanding faster and better. Extensive research over the years has proven that those who teach substantially increase their ability to understand and retain more what they have shared with someone else than those who don’t.
People tend to formulate key points for a topic, organize the relative information in such a way to be able to present a coherent picture to their audience and by so doing increasing their own learning. If you are not good at teaching someone else, then you can play-act. The subconscious mind is not able to differentiate between a genuine teaching session and an imagined one. So, you will still get to learn more.
Do not force yourself to study when you’re very tired and exhausted or feeling sleepy. The brain won’t be able to fully concentrate and assimilate and such, it may result in a total waste of time. This is because the effective concentration span of the brain is limited.
Sleep improves brain function such as productivity, concentration, and cognition. This is why someone can read and understand more after sleeping more than he could do when he was feeling sleepy. Adequate rest/sleep helps in better physical performance and coordination.
Frequently examine yourself:
Always set some questions and answer them on your own to test yourself to know your ability, your progress, your strengths, and your weaknesses. It has been discovered that anytime you test yourself, even if you answer incorrectly, you’re still more likely to remember the correct answer after you’ve been forced to review the answer.
According to research, a student is more likely to remember and identify a question that he experienced or encountered challenges or problems whenever or wherever he sees it. This is why this is an excellent way to learn, understand, and retain a lot of information faster, easier, and better.
Do not be shy to ask questions for more clarifications. This is another way of retaining and comprehending information. If nobody is there for you to ask, browse it for more information and clarification.
You do not need to be told that reading with an empty stomach or when you’re hungry will reduce your rate of comprehension. And so, ensure you’re filled but do not overeat as it may cause discomfort and encourage sleep. In as much as you’re encouraged to eat, make sure you’re feeding healthily. Ensure a balanced diet is maintained.
Some foods that help brain functions are fatty fish, coffee, green tea, blueberries, leafy vegetables, turmeric, nut, and chocolate. Avoid refined sugar, red meat, vegetable oils.
Use bright lights:
While reading, avoid using dim light. This affects the brain’s rate of assimilation and can encourage sleep. Use bright light that won’t cause you to strain your eyes thereby affecting your comprehension.