In the article how to remember what you study part 1, we looked at how memories are stored in the mind and talked about why you should focus on creating memories whilst you study, to aid your memory retention. In this article, we’ll talk about another important factor, repetition.
Repetition is important to build pretty much any skill in life. From playing a musical instrument, playing sports, to driving a car or whatever else you might think of. They all involve repetition to master. Your piano teacher will make sure that you practice all of your scales and your basketball coach will have you perform the same drills over and over again. This is to help aid the skill building process. What is also true is that the more you do something, the easier it becomes. Studying effectively works in a similar fashion. You have to work at it.
When you are trying to learn something new, it’s often the case that you’ll need to go over the content numerous times to make sure you understand it. This is true even if you do use creative study techniques as discussed in part 1.
It’s not enough to just read through and copy your notes a few times after class and then look at it again to revise, just before your exams. It’s best to revisit the content over a number of days and even weeks, consistently. Though it may seem like a long task when you think about it, the process actually gets shorter and shorter each time. Building knowledge, like building skills gets easier with repetition. Each time you return to the content you will be spending less time on it because it won’t be new to you anymore and you will understand it more clearly. If you practice this early on in your studies, preparation just before your exams will be a breeze. True preparation starts at the beginning.
I know this works because I used this technique myself. I studied content consistently until I knew it very well to the point that I could easily provide summaries and even detailed descriptions for my topics verbally. You’ll hear me talk about being vocal in your personal study a lot because I think it’s a great tool. It’s based on the simple fact that “If you can say it, you can write it”. I would often talk through notes out loud around the house or whilst walking to Uni. Whilst you might look crazy to others, the method works.
When it was close to exams and it was time to revise I surprisingly didn’t need to spend too much time revising. If you know the content and you can prove it by being able to answer the questions, then it really shouldn’t take long to revise. The key is to learn it as you go along and not leave it till the last minute.
One of the common phrases I heard from students, and still hear today is this: “I don’t want to start revising too early, because I’ll forget what I’ve studied.” I probably used that one myself in the early years. Don’t fall into that trap. The earlier the better. With the right techniques and being consistent, you will save yourself stress, you will remember what you study and you will get better grades.