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6 Tips to Improve Your Memory

Memory is something which can always be improved, whether you're a bright young thing or a wise old owl. Here are a few tips to help those tricky facts, figures, quotes and poems stick in your mind.

USE THE HOUSE

Use post-it notes or stickers to post key words and phrases around the house at eye-level, or where you look frequently. Every time you pass them, it reinforces the fact or figure in your mind. For example, if you are learning a language, stick notes to objects which say what they are in that language. Nearly 10 years on from studying Spanish at school, I can still remember that ‘el mircroondas’ means microwave (which I think speaks a lot for my cooking skills...).

LIFESTYLE

What you eat and how much sleep you get are crucial to your memory – something which many teenagers stressed about exams are likely to forget. You may think that sugary snacks will help to keep you motivated while you study, but fresh vegetables, healthy fats and grain carbohydrates are a must. Try to eat more curry, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and walnuts for starters, and get your 8 hours of sleep.

MAKE LINKS WITH COLOURS, RHYMES AND MNEMONIC DEVICES

The more links you can make, the more likely you are to remember something. Associate an essential fact with a colour, write it in that colour, highlight it in that colour and think of that colour when you think of the fact. When your brain goes fuzzy in an exam, sometimes just thinking of the colour can help trigger the memory of the fact. The same goes for acronyms, mnemonic devices and rhymes, which are all visual/auditory links. To remember someone’s name, rhyme it with a fact about them (Kate’s hair is straight).

SORT THE INFORMATION INTO CHUNKS

Remembering a shopping list, a tableful of orders at a restaurant or a bank of phone numbers is always tricky. Often, people will remember the first few, and lose the others. The best way to memorize a list is to break it into sizeable chunks of three or four. So a shopping list of eggs, bread, milk, cheese, yoghurt, biscuits, peppers, mushrooms, dishwasher tablets and washing powder becomes: [milk, cheese and yoghurt], [peppers and mushrooms], [bread and biscuits] and [dishwasher tablets and washing powder].

REPETITION

Learning by rote is something that seems to have gone out of the window in modern education, but there are times that are going to require it. If learning a quote or a poem, keep repeating it, again and again and again. Record yourself saying it and listen to it again and again. Think of the number of lyrics you have learned in a lifetime, simply from hearing the song over and over – if it helps, put your facts and figures to a tune!

GET PRACTICAL

It is difficult to learn a set of data or words on a page just by looking at them. If there is a way you can practice what you are learning, make sure you take every opportunity to do so. If learning a language, find someone who speaks it and have a conversation. If learning facts about science, try to do the experiments yourself or visit a museum where you can see a demonstration. It is a lot easier to remember something you have seen or done yourself, than it is to remember a description of it on the page.

Improve your memory