With your pencil in hand, you settle down into your seat to take your long-anticipated test. You know you studied hard, so you sho uldn’t need to worry, right? However, as you read the first question, your mind suddenly goes blank. You panic. No matter what questio n you read, you can’t seem to remember anything that you studied.
If this situation sounds familiar, don’t worry. There are tactics you can integrate into your studying that can help improve your mem ory while you take the test.
1. Chew gum
Some studies suggest that the act of chewing gum plays a role in committing information to memory. A study done in the British Journal of Psychology suggests that chewing gum helps with concentration because it allows more oxygen into the brain, which improves your level of alertness.
The flavor and smell of gum also lend a hand in helping your memory. If you chew a certain flavor of gum while you study and then chew that same flavor of gum during a test, you are more likely to remember what you were studying. This happens because the flavor a nd even the smell of the gum spark your memory, reminding you of what you were doing last time you chewed that gum.
2. Add colors and visuals
Before you start studying, go through your notes and add some color. Colors are known to increase alertness that in turn increases memory. In general, people react more to color, so having colored notes allows you to pay closer attention and gives your memory som ething distinct to look back on.
The same ideas apply to visuals. You will be more likely to remember a picture or video then you will the text in your book or your n otes. Try drawing diagrams of concepts that are difficult for you to remember. You could also look on YouTube for related videos. These tactics give your brain what it already remembers better: shapes and colors.
3. Change location
Overall, humans are creatures of habit, but that could actually be hurting your memory. Switching up your place of study forces you r brain to make new memories in each new location. This helps you retain more information and increases the likelihood that you will re member what you studied.
4. Let your brain work while it sleeps
Besides providing you with rest that keeps you awake during tests, sleep also helps you take in what you have learned. After a hard study session, your brain uses sleep to solidify the memories it formed while you studied. The better sleep you get in the nights leading up to your test, the better your memory will be able to perform during your test.
5. Read material out loud
Several studies claim that reading something out loud instead of reading it silently increases your likelihood of remembering it by 50 %. By actually reading it aloud, you are able to create more memories from saying the words and from hearing them than you would jus t by seeing the words. The more memories you have, the more distinct what you are studying becomes, and the more likely you are to r emember it.
6. Limit your study time
While it may seem like you need a big block of time dedicated to studying, you actually will do better with little blocks of time. Takin g study breaks is important to your memory because it allows your brain a break and gives it time to absorb what you just studied. A br eak every hour or so also helps you remain focused and decreases the chance of your mind drifting.
So the next time you need to study for a test, try these tips. They’ll help you walk into your test confident that you will remember w hat you studied.