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Improve your memory and ace those exams

Incorporating some or all of these memory-enhancing tips into your study routine should sharpen your memory and help you feel much better prepared for those exams

We have two types of memory – short-term and long-term. Short term is what you use for information required immediately, like remembering the name of someone you've just met. Long-term is for stuff you need to retain for the distance. And that includes your TAFE NSW studies. Try these tips to improve your long-term memory.

General health

Trying to improve your memory with a bad diet, no exercise and not enough sleep is like driving with the hand brake on. Your brain (in fact, your whole body) loves fresh whole foods, plenty of water, and plenty of sleep. Physical exercise is also pretty essential.

Test yourself

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General shows that you'll have better long-term recall of what you've learned if you're tested on it (see, those exams do serve a purpose). Therefore, you could try setting yourself some "mini exams" as part of your study routine. Better still, pair up with a classmate for some testing and review.

Pace yourself

Follow a regular study schedule rather than leaving it all to the last minute. While some people claim they work better under pressure, a UCLA study published in 2012 suggests it's still a counter-productive way of learning. Cramming tends to deposit information into your short-term memory where it's not going to be of much use to you at exam time. It's also likely to involve sacrificing sleep, another big no-no that can negatively impact your exam performance.

'Chunk' it

Grouping similar ideas or themes into smaller chunks will give you a much better chance of remembering them. The brain naturally organises information into memory-related clusters, so giving some structure and organisation to the info will help this process and help you make further connections between related themes and ideas. It's how we can remember things like a 10 digit mobile phone number, which is "chunked" into a four digit prefix followed by two three digit chunks.

Go mnemonic

Mnemonic techniques are creative ways of remembering new information. Try visualising, using humour, creating acronyms, rhyme or giving it some kind of personal meaning to help you retain the information.

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Incorporating some or all of these memory-enhancing tips into your study routine should sharpen your memory and help you feel much better prepared for those exams. Of course, if all else fails, you can always walk around with a yellow post it note stuck to your forehead.