9 Things You Need to Know About Memory and Learning for Exam Success - Part 2/2

One of the biggest challenges when studying for a CIMA certification is finding time to study. Time is a scarce resource (btw CIMA loves the word scarce, right?), you need to use it in the most effective way, you need to optimise it. 

Last week in the Part 1 of this article, I gave you 4 points on how to enhance your memory. Here are the remaining 5. Enjoy your reading!

5. Memory, learning and creativity are all related.

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The more creativity you put into memorizing something, the easier it would be to recall and then the better your learning related to it.

Imagine you just met a man called Rex Baker. Don’t try to commit his name to memory by repeating Rex Baker over and over again. Instead, imagine him wearing a white baker’s outfit, with baker’s hat and carrying a fresh smelling loaf of bread in his hand. Rex means King. Imagine a huge R or Rex printed on his baker's uniform (like the Superman's S) and a tiny little crown atop his baker's hat. He's the king of bakers. Rex Baker. Now are you likely to forget his name again?

You can use similar means to remember ideas, concepts and lists you must learn to get through your exams. The harder you work at it, the better you’ll commit them to memory. 

Untitled design 66. Creativity, animation, jokes, rhymes, are all useful.

In the book Josh Foer gets a lesson in memorizing a shopping list.

Six bottles of wine talking to each other, making fun of their qualities.

Think of a durian fruit, looking a bit hurt, and other items on the list before and after it holding their noses. You are unlikely to forget all three of the items.

And if you've seen Sesame Street and similar programmes. Their creators know that the funnier, the more unusual  and the more animated you make each word or letter the more easier they would lodge in memories of kids.

If you need to study various models and diagrams, use the animation techniques to make them come alive for you on the page. You will remember them all the better for it.


7. Memory is about attention. What captures your attention is more memorable.

Attention 300x200Now it must be clear to you why you fall asleep when you try to study certain subjects. It is because you are failing to give it attention. Or the creator of content, or your tutor failed to make it attention grabbing. Unlike movie makers and game creators, our teachers do not believe they are in the business of capturing attention. Hence most of our learning tends to be boring or make us bored.  

However, we can't go passing professional exams if we expect everyone to make things funny for us so we'll remember better. It is for us to make it so.

Remember the Alphabet song? It introduces 26 letters toddlers do not know putting them together into a rhyme to make them easier to recall. Even the kids who forget the exact order can pick up the rest as they go along because of the rhyme. The same goes for poems like Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

And the fact remains, if you spend time making something seem funny and laughing about it, you have given it enough attention that you are more likely to remember it.


8. We don't remember isolated facts; we remember things in context.

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This is a key limitation in our memories. And to make that into a strength, professional memorizers use various techniques. All that we discussed above, using fun, humour, jokes and animation are there to extend the context into a memory picture rather than have it as a mere piece of information or fact, floating in isolation without a context.

One of the main techniques professional memorizers over the ages have used to add context is a technique called the Memory Palace.


9. The Memory Palace

We are spatial beings. So we may not be able to remember long lists of poems, but we can describe the layout of our homes, schools, the route we drive or take to work, the layout of the public gardens we walk in or the library or the market we visit regularly. That is we can place things in context.

This is the idea of a memory palace. Using a memory palace or home or hut or mansion or market is about placing different concepts in specific locations. This is what enables memory champs to within seconds commit to memory the order of a shuffled deck or cards or two decks or more.

Take the list of things you want to remember and keep placing them in order in the memory palace. If you are memorizing a shopping list, for example, you can place the first item (say milk) at the gate, the next items along the garden path, on the doorstep, outside the door, inside, one per window, along the staircase and so on. This technique provides you a way to peg things in space. When you need to recall, just imagine rewalking your original route. If you made things funny, animated and exciting, you will not have any difficulty remembering.

Now if you are using the Memory Palace to remember things by, as the types of things you need to remember increase, you need more and more places to use as memory palaces. This is why travel and going places is a good idea. It helps you boost your memory. At the worst, go to a website which provides 3D experiences of the great creations of the world, the great pyramids, Stone Henge, the Taj Mahal and take a virtual tour. And you will remember the order in which you travelled because your human brain is meant to remember and recall things in 3D.

Use your creativity and imagination. You have 32 teeth and there is the whole digestive tract to use as a memory palace too. Ten toes, ten fingers, eyes, ears, nose etc. All of these can be used as memory palaces. All the classrooms and building in your primary school which you probably recall very well.

Use all the points given in this article and use the basic memory techniques the next time you study and see how you fare with your exams.

You may want to watch this TED Talks video by Joshua Foer to fully appreciate the value of memory techniques. 

Keep visiting our blog for more articles that help CIMA students like you succeed.

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