We learn a lot of things in school, but we never learn how to learn. It is very difficult to absorb all that is taught in the syllabus, because of the amount and the diversity of information at hand.
Rote learning is not an efficient method of learning before exams, as it provides only temporary retention of data. For sustained and efficient learning, different methods are employed by smart people that give them an advantage over others. Here are a few methods that can help you ace your exam syllabus:
1. Mnemonics – Expression Mnemonics:
Mnemonics are memory devices that are used to retain large pieces of information. They are generally used for remembering lists, parts, hierarchy of events: things which go in step-wise order.
How are we able to recall the lyrics of songs that we just recently heard for the first time?
Music can be used to assist students in retaining and recalling important parts of the syllabus, the same way nursery rhymes were used in kindergarten to teach kids counting and the alphabet.
The most popular mnemonics technique, the Expressions Mnemonics uses the first letter of each word of a part or list and makes a phrase or word out of it. The next time the list is required, remembering the mnemonic is enough to recall the list.
For example: To remember the order of taxonomy (biology: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species), the following mnemonic can be used:
Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach.
The same way, remembering the order of mathematical operations (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add and Subtract) becomes a lot easier with this:
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
2. Visual Mnemonics:
This type of mnemonic relates a particular image to a piece of information.
Construct an image that matches the idea in some way:
For example: To remember the depressant drugs: Barbiturates, Alcohol and Tranquilizers, the image of a cricket bat can be made. Visualizing and sketching the BAT will help recall the three drugs.
Similarly, to remember the name Rosenberg, the word can be split into three meaningful words: rose, hen and iceberg. The image of these three words can help retain the name. The sillier the image, the easier it is to remember it. Try visualizing a hen sitting with a rose on an iceberg.
This simple technique involves the breaking up of information into chunks or parts that are easier to retain.
Large numbers can be broken down into smaller, easier parts. The parts can be then aggregated to form the number back.
For example: 36,32,139 can be remembered better if we split the number and group it into 36-32-139. Remembering the three small numbers is easier than remembering the whole 7 digit number in one go.
4. Mind Mapping:
It might sound as something Sherlock Holmes uses to solve cases, but mind mapping is actually a unique and useful technique that can be used to create a structure and fit pieces of information in a flow.
It is a diagram that connects information to a main topic, just like branches on a tree. It could include images, sketches, doodles and color, helping link different concepts together.
5. Frequent Revision of material:
Revising and reviewing already learnt material is a very important aspect of learning. The first revision should come shortly after the material has been studied for the first time.
Revision is a continuous process, so go through the school notes regularly, at the end of the week or by the end of the chapter.
6. Highlighting and Underlining:
A popular technique used throughout school and college, highlighting/underlining key passages can be beneficial while revising and skimming through important topics right before exams.
7. Challenging your brain:
Although not a memory technique, keeping your brain active by playing memory games helps challenge the brain and keep it mentally active. Games like Sudoku, Scrabble, and other pattern matching puzzles help keep the brain healthy and enhance the learning process.
These seven methods are effective in their own way, but they can be used optimally if they are combined together. Go ahead…try them out!
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