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How to Improve Memory for Studying

How to Improve Memory for Studying (Practical Tips with Examples)

Are you tired of those frustrating moments when you sit down to study and your memory seems to have taken a coffee break? You’re not alone!

Whether you’re a student preparing for exams or simply trying to improve your ability to retain and recall crucial information, I’ve got some superb news for you.

Improving your memory for studying doesn’t have to be a hollow dream. It is a skill you can develop and refine by following strategies including spaced repetition, teaching others, and self-quizzing.

Curious to know more, right?

Then, grab your study materials and let me share all the validated memory techniques, strategies, and many more that will unlock your brain’s full potential.  

Understanding Memory

Before learning about memory boosting methods, you need to understand what memory is and how it works

Memory is a complex process of gaining, storing, retaining, and recovering information, involving manifold stages.

There are three main stages associated with memory. Each stage contributes to your ability to retain and retrieve information. Understanding these stages is essential to improve your memory for studying. They include:

1.  Encoding

Encoding occurs whenever you encounter information. It involves converting sensory inputs into a form that ultimately gets stored in memory.

Effective encoding is the base of the memory and it’s influenced by factors such as attention, relevance, and organization.

It allows you to organize different information into a systematic array, which starts by giving attention to a particular matter. Subsequently, it gets stored as short or long-term memory. 

2. Storage

Once information is encoded, it is stored in our memory system. However, what does memory storage accomplish? Storage creates a fixed record of the encoded information.

Moreover, our memory system is divided into three main types including:

Sensory Memory

This type of memory lasts no longer than three to four seconds. It is stored as long as our five senses (sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste) are stimulated.

There are three types of sensory memory including Iconic (vision-associated), Echoic (sound and hearing-associated), and Haptic (touch-associated).

Short-Term Memory

In Freudian psychology, short-term memory is described as the conscious mind. It is also known as active memory, which typically lasts 18–30 s.

Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory may last for days, weeks, months, years, and even decades.

It is also called the preconscious and unconscious mind in Freudian psychology, which remains mostly out of our consciousness and can be retrieved when required.

Sensory memory briefly retains information from our senses; short-term memory holds it temporarily, whereas long-term memory is for more permanent storage.

3. Retrieval

The final phase is retrieval, where you access and bring back stored information into your consciousness. Specifically, it’s a process of accessing your stored memories.

This phase helps you recall facts, solve problems, and apply knowledge in various situations.

How to Remember What You Study?

To study effectively, you need to understand and retain what you’re learning in your memory for future use. To help you remember what you study, here are ten successful strategies:

Use Mental Associations

Mental associations improve your memory capacity by creating strong connections between new information and what you already know. Thus, you can significantly improve your ability to remember and retrieve knowledge when needed.

You can utilize mental associations to enhance your memory through the following:

Mnemonic Devices

Keyword mnemonics is a powerful aid to improve your memory. According to your preference, you can create keywords or acronyms that represent a series of concepts.

For example, to remember the order of the planets of the sun, you can use the keyword “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles” (Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune).

Similarly, “PEMDAS” can be a mnemonic for the order of operations in mathematics (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction).


According to cognitive psychology, chunking is the process of breaking up a big amount of information into small and manageable pieces that are easier to remember.. It helps our brain to process and remember information and details more effectively.

Let’s consider a phone number. It is hard when you try to memorize it wholly at a time. However, it becomes easier to remember if you break a string of ten-digit phone numbers into three chunks (e.g., 123-456-7890).


Have you ever noticed a song or rhyme is easier to memorize than straightforward information or facts? I bet you do.

Crafting rhymes or songs to remember a list of items can make the information more memorable for you.

For example, you can use “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November” to recall the number of days in each month.


Visual aids, such as concept maps, illustration, photos, and graphs, foster effective memorization and learning. They make the information simple to understand and recall.

It is an efficient memory improvement technique that also boosts your spatial memory.

Therefore, try to create an image or concept map regarding the material you are studying in your own way. This will help you to make information more permanent in your memories.

Method of Loci

The method of loci is also known as memory places, memory journey, journey method, memory palaces, or mind palace technique. A memory palace technique is a method for enhancing memory that involves linking certain parts of a familiar environment with specific pieces of knowledge. It is a memory enhancement strategy that leverages spatial memory to remember lists of items or information.

In essence, you mentally associate each piece of information with a distinct location in a familiar space, such as your home.

When you need to recall the information, you mentally navigate the memory places. This ancient method is very effective for retaining ordered and structured data.

Suppose you have a shopping list that includes apples, bread, milk, eggs, and oranges. Now imagine your house if you want to keep this list in mind. First, envision a giant apple blocking your front door.

Next, picture a huge loaf of bread on the coffee table when you enter your living room.

Imagine your milk is spilling from the fridge, and eggs are overflowing from the fridge to the counter.

Finally, visualize your dining room table as covered in rolling oranges.

Thus, when you’re at the store, mentally walk through your home to recall the items on your list. Memory tricks like these are a great way to increase the capacity of your working memory as well as your access to permanent memory.

Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice is a process of recalling facts, definitions, concepts, or events from your unconscious mind or memory.

Practice retrieval in short bursts and take a break between a single long session so that you will not forget some of the learning materials.

To recall, your brain has to struggle for a bit. This will help to store information in your memory, increase your long-term memory retention and learning, and develop your brain function.

Spread Your Study Sessions

To remember information, it is more effective to spread your study sessions over time rather than cramming. This process is called the “spacing effect.”

The spacing effect shows that information is better retained when it’s revisited at intervals. To improve your memory, make a study plan that includes regular review sessions.

Teach others

Teaching someone else is an effective way to reinforce your memory.

When you explain a complex topic to a friend, family, group member or even an imaginary audience, you are recalling the concepts and breaking them down to make them more understandable.

This helps you to internalize and remember the information and concept better rather than regular reviewing.

Let’s assume you are learning about photosynthesis.

You may help a friend understand it and solidify your own knowledge of concepts, such as sunlight, chlorophyll, and glucose production, by walking them through it step by step..

Quiz Yourself

Instead of passively reviewing your notes or studies, actively quiz yourself on the topic. This activity forces your brain to recall information and strengthens your memory.

In this case, flashcards, practice questions, and self-testing are very effective tools, which will be discussed later in this article.

Imagine you are studying vocabulary words in a foreign language. Create a flashcard with the words on one side and the translation on the other side.

Thereafter, attempt to recall the translation before flipping the card.

This self-quizzing or self-testing forces your brain to retrieve information from your memory and develop neural pathways, which ultimately results in overall memory improvement.

Quick writing

Concise note-taking while reading or listening to lectures is an effective way to remember your study lessons.

Writing key points of any facts or concepts in your own words helps you process and retain the material easily. Furthermore, it will enhance your comprehension.

Cross Check Answers

Whenever you study your notes or lessons, don’t just read through them; rather, actively engage with the content.

Work on different problems and cross-check your answers while studying; it reinforces your retention and understanding of the subject matter.


Regularly review previously learned material. Here, you can apply the “spaced repetition” technique.

What is spaced repetition?

It’s a process of revisiting information at increasing intervals to ensure it’s stored in permanent memory. This technique can help you retain any information, whether it’s about science or commerce, for a really long time.

Exercise and Diet

Spontaneous blood flow to the brain cells helps with retention. The neglect of one’s physical health will inevitably have an effect on one’s mental health.

According to a comprehensive analysis by Roig et al. in 2013, acute exercise can improve your short-term memory and long-term memory by approximately 48% and 58%, respectively.

But how does it improve your brain function?

Exercise increases your molecular targets, such as the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This factor increases synaptogenesis, which is the process of forming new synapses.

It improves your brain’s ability to store more information and form long-lasting memories. More BDNF means more improved mental function and memory. Therefore, besides studying, ensure you exercise regularly.

For example, after a jogging session, take a moment to review and memorize important information. Trust me, you’ll likely find it easier to remember after exercise due to increased brain function.

Fuel your brain for peak performance! What you eat directly impacts your health. Ditch high cholesterol foods that clog mental arteries, opting instead for a Mediterranean feast.

Think vibrant veggies, brain-boosting omega-3s from fish, and healthy fats from nuts and olive oil. This brain-loving diet promotes blood flow, reduces inflammation, and nourishes your memory, making it your secret weapon for learning and focus.

Get Enough Sleep

Adequate and restorative sleep is vital for memory consolidation. During deep sleep, your brain processes and stores information learned during the day.

Scientists have observed that sleep improves your ability torecall and retain memory by 20%–40%.

Moreover, slow wave sleep or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep—also known as phase 3 sleep—is monumental for the improvement of memory recall and retention.

Thus, prioritize your sleeping schedule to optimize your memory. Get seven to eight hours of sleep daily.

Six Practical Tips and Habits

Effective memory improvement is not solely about memorization techniques, it also involves adopting good habits and time managementto optimize your study efforts.

Here are six practical tips and habits that will increase your retention power:

Set Study Goals

Our mind works better when we assign a purpose to it. Establish clear, specific and achievable study goals for each study session to improve your focus and retention.

Prioritize Tasks

Identify high-priority tasks and tackle them first. In addition to saving time and energy, this lets your mind focus on a more important subject that you may remember for a long time.

Create a Study Schedule

Develop a consistent study schedule, including designated times for learning, review, and breaks. Remember, a well-structured routine helps your brain adapt to a study pattern and recall information more efficiently.

Reflect on Your Progress

Every time you complete a task or study session, take a moment to reflect on what you have learned, what you found challenging, and how you can improve. This assists you to reinforce your memories.

Practice Self-Feedback

Give yourself constructive feedback to improve your retention capability.

Subsequently, identify your strengths and weaknesses and use this information to tailor your study strategies.

Practice Mindfulness

Incorporate mindfulness and medication to reduce stress and improve focus because studies have shown that stress hormones weaken your permanent memory.

According to Dr.  Kerry Ressler, “Your brain is not just a single unit, but a group of different parts that perform different tasks.”

In essence, if one part is busy handling a task, such as stress, the other parts may not have much energy to focus on another task, like memorization.

Hence, keep your stress level minimal while studying.

Memory Enhancement Tools

Memory enhancement tools are resources, technologies, or aids that can help you improve your memory and cognitive abilities.

In addition, these tools can support your learning, studying, and information retention. The following are common memory enhancement tools:

Mind Maps

Mind mapping is a visual technique used to create diagrams or charts that represent information in a hierarchical and interconnected manner.

You can use specialized software such as MindMeister or XMind to create and edit digital mind maps while organizing ideas, concepts and relationships into a more digestible and memorable form.

Flash Cards

Flash cards bear information, including fast facts, vocabulary, words, dates, and quotes, on both sides. It is a memorization aid that consists of answers on one side and questions on the other side.

Flashcards are one of the basic tools that is used during self-testing or quizzing—a good strategy to improve your memory for studying.

How? See “Quiz Yourself” section above.

Furthermore, flashcards are available in both physical and digital form. You can use digital applications, including AnKi, Quizlet, or Cram, to create a flashcard for learning and memorizing your desired information.

Notebooks and Planners

Physical or digital notebooks and planners are valuable for organizing information, setting reminders, and managing tasks and appointments. Your brain is more likely to remember information and tasks if you keep them in order.

Digital Memory Apps

Various mobile and computer applications, such as Cogmed, StudyBlue, and memoryOS, are designed to improve memory.

These apps can include features such as note-taking, flashcards, quizzes, study guides, task management, and reminder systems.

Educational Software

You can use specialized software and apps, such as Khan Academy, Quizlet, Evernote, edX, Newsela, DragonBox, and Duolingo, to aid memory and cognitive skills. They also include brain-training games and exercises.

Study Groups

Collaborative learning with your coursemates reinforce memory through discussions, teaching others, and sharing diverse perspectives on a topic.

Such an interaction with other members stimulates different parts of your brain and promotes active recall.

Tutors and Mentors

Personalized instruction from your tutors or mentors can provide guidance and feedback that ultimately enhances your memory and comprehension.

Whether in a one-on-one setting or as part of a small group, tutors or mentors can advise you on the effective learning style and pace via tailored teaching.

This personalized attention ensures that you understand and remember the topics.

Educational Games and Memory Exercises

Educational games and exercises are designed to improve memory, concentration, and cognitive function.

These include games and brain-training apps such as Escape Room-Mystery World, Word Research Puzzle, Flow Free, How to Loot- Pull the Pin, number games, Chest, and Brain Dot.

Spaced Repetition Tools

Spaced repetition software, such as Anki, automatically schedules the review of flashcards and other contents at intervals to facilitate long-term retention.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

These technologies can provide immersive learning experiences and improve your memory retention by engaging multiple senses, including sight and sound.

For example, rather than reading the lectures, if you see, hear, and interact with the content through VR, it will create a richer memory and enhance long-term retention due to the fact that experiences are memories you never forget.

Case Studies

Here are two case studies of real-life students who improved their memory using various techniques and their outcomes:

Case Study 1: Alex’s Stress Reduction

Alex is a graduate student who often struggles with memory issues because of his high stress and anxiety. Therefore, he started using different techniques to reduce his stress and improve sleep quality. After a couple of weeks, he observed surprising results.

Let’s see what techniques helped him throughout his journey –

Techniques Used

Stress Management: Alex started practicing stress management techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity, to reduce his stress level to a certain point.

Sleep Hygiene: He improved his sleep quality by establishing a consistent sleep schedule.


As he experienced reduced stress and anxiety, his memory and cognitive performance improved. He can now concentrate better during his studies, which leads to better academic performance.

Case Study 2: Mark’s Visual Learning and Spaced Repetition Success

Mark, a college student, was worried about retaining information from his lectures and textbook. Moreover, he was not good with historical dates and facts. Therefore, he utilized memory enhancement tools to improve his retention power.

After a certain time, he started to get higher scores in his History courses.

Here is a comprehensive view of his memory improvement process:

Tools Used

Mind Mapping: Mark created a mind map for each subject and used color and visual associations to organize complex topics.

Flash Cards: To reinforce his memory, he designed digital flashcards using visual cues with questions on one side and answers on the other side.

Spaced Repetition: He used the space repetition technique with interval increasing and actively recalled information from memory.


Mark exam scores significantly increased. Furthermore, it became easier for him to remember and understand subjects such as biology and anatomy. His retention of historical dates and facts improved and he could remember them for a long time without restudying it.

To know more about different studies regarding memory improvement, you can check out this website.

What Can an Adult Student Do to Prevent Memory Loss while Studying?

As an adult student, juggling studies can strain your memory. Combat memory loss by prioritizing sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet. Ditch cramming for organized learning, using mnemonics and reading aloud. Connect new info to what you know, and use tools like calendars and routines to stay on top of things.

Challenge yourself with new skills, and remember, addressing stress and potential brain health conditions can also boost your memory. Take care of your brain, and it’ll take care of your academic success!

Final Words: Improving Memory Power for Studying?

There you have it! To boost your memory for studying, you need to find the right mixture of strategies and tools that work best for you. This guide discussed all the necessary tips and tricks to achieve better academic success—it’s your time to shine.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your memory problems. Therefore, you can experiment with different techniques and identify what is most effective for you.

I strongly believe with all these strategies and tools in your backpack or toolkit, you will be well on your way to improving your memory.

Reference links

Perelman School of Medicine. “Impact of Sleep on Memory”

College of Life Science. “How Exercise Affects Brain”

University of ST. Augustine. “Science-backed Memory Tips”

Harvard Health Publishing. “Impact of Stress on Memory”

Emily Watson
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