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July 5, 2021
Do you ever find that you spend hours studying and trying to learn something, but you do not quite absorb it? The phenomenon is not unique. So many of us experience this on a regular basis. Particularly when the stakes are high and you are passionate about your end goal, it can become even more difficult to study efficiently and effectively. Here is a breakdown of some helpful tips for improving your memory and knowledge retention before your next standardized test or proctored exam.
Before you can improve your skills, it helps to break down the terminology. Knowledge retention is often spoken about in reference to business strategies or corporate structures, but it is also relevant for your personal studying patterns and exam success. Knowledge retention is generally defined as the process of absorbing, processing and storing new information so that it can be effectively accessed at a later date. In Psychological Science, an academic journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, authors Robert Lindsey, Michael Mozer, Harold Pashler and Jeffery Shroyer collaborated on a fascinating article about how to improve students' overall knowledge retention. Their article first outlines the challenge many of us face. We know from experience that "students at every educational level are challenged by an ever-growing amount of material to review and an ongoing imperative to master new material." But are there ever enough hours in the day? How do you focus on reviewing old material while also taking in new information? Evidently, "newly acquired information is vulnerable and easily slips away. Even highly motivated learners are not immune." There are of course things you can do to combat this challenge. The secret to success is finding a balance between what you already know, what you need to review and what you have yet to learn. Try to find a healthy balance between reviewing brand new material and going over the material you are already familiar with. By spacing out your learning, you will have a better shot at remembering more of the content. Lindsey, Mozer, Pashler and Shroyer emphatically argue that "periodic review is required for the long-term preservation of knowledge and skills." That means you do not have to learn everything all at once. Instead, space out your study sessions and put in a steady, sustained effort.
Another aspect of knowledge retention is building and maintaining your memory. There are a number of useful memory devices that can increase your chances of success on that next exam. Consider using an acrostic of familiar words to help you remember a more complex concept. You can also try making flashcards by hand or even using a phone or web application to create them. Flashcards are particularly helpful if you have an extensive list of vocabulary to memorize or you need to absorb a series of concrete facts and figures. Harvard Health Publishing recently published an article detailing seven ways to keep your memory sharp at any stage of life. The organization has a number of useful recommendations, including using mnemonic devices such as acronyms or acrostics. They also advise repetition and efficiently dividing up your time with intense study sessions and longer breaks. Indeed, "spacing out periods of study is particularly valuable when you are trying to master complicated information." The more challenging the exam, the more important it will be to divide your studying time into compact and efficient sessions with breaks in between.
After reviewing these tips on how to improve your knowledge retention and memory, you are well on your way to exam success. Consider booking your next exam through Ashton Testing Services. Located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, ATS is a leader in exam proctoring services. The safe and secure environment provides added peace of mind so you can have a positive experience and stay focused on your success.
Written by: CJ McGillivray