Tag Archives: Memory

Using Memory to Study Effectively | TutorNerds | Orange County

Did You Remember to Study?

At this point in your lives, studying is a huge part of your day. It’s a pretty big task to be able to go to school for six hours and then come home and put in an additional two hours or so. If you are also getting ready to apply for college, or are preparing for the SAT or AP (read out post, “Last Minute AP Study Guide”) classes, those two hours can turn into a lot more. Have you ever thought to yourself that there must be an easier way? Unfortunately there is not an easier way, but there is a better way.

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Memory plays a substantial role in how much information we need to keep in our minds and the brain takes on the complicated task of determining which information is important and which is not.

Short term, long term and working memory

There are three primary types of memory: Short term, long term and working memory. Short term memory lasts about 7 seconds, so this part of the brain essentially takes a mental note about important elements and stores them for a very short time. So when do we use this magical seven second notepad? Lets’ say you are sitting in that giant classroom on Saturday morning taking your SAT and the proctor has just said “start”. It’s time to get that short term memory rolling. For example, if you are solving for X in your head and you remember that the partial answer is 8 and you have the then divide that by 3, you are using short term memory.

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This presents a problem for students who are tired or overworked. Sound familiar? Sleep is the best way to keep the short term memory sharp but you can compensate for fatigue by writing everything down. Temporary short term memory loss can lead to a lot of missed answers that you really knew so take advantage or your pencil and test booklet in order to give yourself the best chance at success.

Long term memory can potentially last forever. Remember when you rode a bike at age six? Now, ten years later you can not only remember riding your bike but you still know how to do it. That’s long term memory. This will come in handy when you’re asked about a book you read in school two years ago; it will take your brain a bit longer, but it’ll get there.

Your Most Valuable Study Partner: Working Memory

That brings us to working memory. Working memory is your best friend and most valuable study partner when it comes to studying and taking tests. Working memory is similar to short term memory but it can store multiple pieces of information in multiple formats. Essentially your memory is multitasking the entire time you are studying, which is why you feel so tired after doing homework. So how can you use your working memory to study more effectively?

Although we don’t entirely know which tricks work for which people just yet, many students will be able to study more effectively by trying these 5 tips:

  1. Write an outline of what you really need to focus on before you start studying. If you have a list of key words or phrases, your brain can search for them while disregarding irrelevant information. The less multitasking your memory has to do, the quicker it can function. Compare it to cleaning your room. How likely are you to find your favorite pair of jeans if your clothes are everywhere? A quick cleaning at the beginning of the week can make each morning easier. The memory can work the same way.
  2. Eliminate distractions. The memory is already working hard when you are studying so do yourself a favor and turn off the TV, turn your phone to silent and close the door to your room if your home gets noisy. Many students find wearing earplugs helpful.
  3. Socialize. That’s right, talk to your friends. I don’t mean talk to them on the phone the night before a big test, but rather just in general. We have to think all the time and use short term memory when we chit chat and it keeps our brains active while we are having fun.
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies and protein too. Healthy food is fuel for our brains and memory. The more energy your brain has to burn, the quicker it can get things done.
  5. Sleep! I bet a lot of you are up until 1 or 2 in the morning finishing homework. 4 or 5 hours of sleep is definitely not enough to keep the memory running at full speed. Try getting a full 8 hours and see if you can get your homework done faster the next afternoon. I bet you’ll be surprised.

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One last thing, summer doesn’t mean an end to learning. In today’s competitive world of college admissions, it’s crucial students spend the next few months improving and catching up. What better way to do that than with a private summer tutor? We work with student’s schedules so they can still have fun. Don’t fall victim to the summer slow down!

Remember the Curve of Forgetting | TutorNerds

Remember More and Forget Less

Forgetting is really frustrating. The everyday stuff, misplacing keys or leaving a pen somewhere, is part of being a human. However, when it happens on a test, it’s terrifying. Sitting there with a black hole in your mind is never fun. What can you do to better recall the stuff you know? It’s all about repetition.Read on to find out how to remember more and forget less.

tutor-logoOur brains are amazing things; holding tons and tons of information from things we learn in school to the names of the new neighbors. The problem isn’t “losing” this information, it’s retrieving it. If information is not utilized frequently, it’s left to gather dust in the corner. For things we use frequently, like names of friends, simple math and song lyrics, they stay fresh in our minds and available at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t it be nice if the names of countries or the Pythagorean Theorem were that easy to recall? It could be, with a little repetition.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 7.44.35 PMThe chart above shows what basically happens when we learn something new. The long black line indicates new information gained, up to 100%. As the first day peaks into the second, without any additional review, our minds begin to consider that new information less and less important. By a week most of it is gone, only a small amount remaining. The gold line, on the other hand, shows what information could be saved by daily review. Within the first few days, spend a good amount of time studying notes and details. The information is still new and you may not fully comprehend it at this point. As a week approaches, you can drop your studying time in half. By now you should fully understand the information, and only need to be reminded of main ideas. Beyond a week, take a few moments to look over notes, focusing on the big ideas and possibly testing your knowledge from time to time.

With this consistent review approach, you should be able to maintain information to tackle any quiz, test, or essay a teacher throws at you. You won’t be spending hours in the library or weekends chained to your desk. A few minutes every day can help to keep all those acidic chemicals or Spanish verbs right up front where you need them.

Having a solid memory is terrific, but sometimes it takes more than just that. Let your private tutor from TutorNerds help you with all those flashcards.

Good luck on midterms, Los Angeles!