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How to Remember Stuff

Does information go in one ear, and come out the other? In order to get new knowledge to stick, you need to make it a part of your long-term memory.


  • Step 1: Know the type of memory Understand memory -- episodic memory is when you remember events by picturing them as episodes in your head, semantic memory deals with facts and generalized information, and procedural memory deals with how to perform a task or strategy.
  • Step 2: Understand encoding Understand the strategy of encoding information. In order to store new information into your long-term memory, you must relate it to information already stored in you long-term memory. The more meaningful the comparison, the more likely the new information will stay in your memory.
  • Step 3: Have a background Have a background in the subject you are trying to add to your memory. A person with a background in Civil War history will find it easier to gain new knowledge about the Civil War.
  • TIP: Make connections to modern cultural situations you are familiar with if you don't have a background in the subject.
  • Step 4: Spring from introductory statements Use introductory statements provided by instructors, or the material, as a springboard. Introductory statements highlight the relationships between the new information and the information already in your long-term memory.
  • TIP: Answer orienting questions, or questions that are asked by an instructor or the material, to lead you to see these relationships.
  • Step 5: Explain or elaborate Explain or expand on the new information. This strategy, known as elaborative interrogation, will help you remember your new information by forcing you to come up with your own explanation about how it works.
  • Step 6: Diagram Look at diagrams and models that help show the new information. Diagram the new information for yourself to aid storing it into your long-term memory.
  • Step 7: Learn from your mistakes Learn from your mistakes. If you get a question or a concept wrong, focus on why it was wrong, and what the correct answer is. This strategy of using feedback loops can help you remember the correct answer in the future.
  • Step 8: Rehearse Rehearse your new information. Repeatedly review what you've learned over a long-term period until the new information is ingrained in your long-term memory. Tend to your memory and it will tend to you.
  • FACT: The human brain contains roughly 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells.

You Will Need

  • Understanding of memory
  • Introductory statement
  • Diagrams
  • Models
  • Orienting questions (optional)

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