Have you ever spent an hour reading a book, looking over your notes or quizzing yourself with flashcards, only to realize a few hours later that you don’t remember any of it?
I often find myself forgetting a conversation I had with someone that I really should remember. What’s up with this short-term memory loss? Well, maybe it’s not that we forget, but that we don’t ever really commit these things to memory.
I attended a lecture about memorization and the steps that you need to go through in order to really commit something to your long-term memory. These steps are called “The Three R’s of Memory.” We’ll analyze them as if you were studying information you would need to know for a test.
The first step is reception. You have to be receptive to receiving information if you intend to remember it. Some tips to better receive the information in the first place is to ask questions to clarify what you didn’t understand and to review your notes before reading a chapter.
The second step is recollection. When you are taking the test, you have to be able to recall what you received early during your studies. To practice recollection, you can give yourself practice tests. This will simulate the actual test, when you’ll have to recall the information you are memorizing. If this seems hard at first, try clearing your mind of everything except the materials you are trying to memorize. Then try again.
The third step is retention. This is when you commit what you’ve learned to long-term memory. Some steps to do this are:
1. Make a conscious effort to remember what you’ve learned.
2. Organize the information you’ve learned using maps, charts, notes, or highlighting.
3. Review the material as soon as possible and as often as possible after you learn it.
4. Tell someone else what you’ve learned; teaching others is a great way to help you learn the material as well.
5. Decide why you need to remember the information, then commit to remembering it.
Committing something to memory, whether it’s a math equation or a birthday date, takes time and effort. But if you focus on the three R’s, you’re more likely to remember what you are trying to learn.