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nebule's avatar

What are your best revision tips... for someone with an incredibly BAD memory?

Asked by nebule (16457points) August 17th, 2009

I have my philosophy exam in 2 months times and beside from an essay to do it seems that I have quite a bit of time to study and revise. However, all the studying and time in the world won’t help if I can’t retain the information will it.

What are you best tips for revision and retaining information short and long term?

Oh yes and I have done a revision timetable…

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21 Answers

CMaz's avatar

I find the only thing that works with me. Is to go over it, and over it, and over it.
All the way up to the test. If I take a break, I will start to forget.

AstroChuck's avatar

You can also reach a point of over-saturation if you study too much. Try to take time without study for recreation. Over doing study can keep you from retaining what you’ve learned. Try and set aside a reasonable amount of time each day for study without distractions and I’m betting you’ll absorb the info just fine. At least this has worked for me in the past.

Jeruba's avatar

@lynneblundell, do you really mean revise (change and improve a piece of writing) or review (go back over material you’ve studied to make sure you retain it)?

Alleycat8782's avatar

The best way for me to remember information for a test is to make flash cards.

limeaide's avatar

Out of curiosity do you ever notice remembering things that aren’t that important easily? This is something I noticed about my self if it’s not important I can remember easier so I tricked myself into thinking studying and the topics weren’t that big of a deal and I retained more. Just don’t over focus or over study casually study it and enjoy the process and you may retain more.

I also found it helpful to realize what type of a learner you are and tailor your studying to this. For instance are you a visual learner, auditory or do you learn best by doing? If you aren’t sure use all three ways and as many of your senses as possible. Also, I found this test, I haven’t took it but looked good. There are several other test out there as well that may give you a clue. Good luck!

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Jeruba Revise is the word used in the UK to describe preparing for the an exam. No one here would use review to describe the process. The OED also lists one of the definitions of revise as ” To go over (a subject already learnt) in preparation for an examination”.

I suppose it’s just another example of how different countires use the same language in slightly different ways.

@lynneblundell good luck

nebule's avatar

@Jeruba yes I guess technically you are spot on..but it’s generally the accepted word for what we mean by going over your work and retaining the information…

@limeaide will have a look at that test…and yes I do frequently remember stuff that is useless…I don’t think I can trick my mind very easily..particularly as one of the topics is the philosophy of the mind… :-/

edit: p.s. apparently I’m a visual learner.. which makes sense…

and @lightlyseared… thanks..didn’t see you writing that..

PerryDolia's avatar

Do you use mind maps?

Most people take notes sequentially as the class progresses or as they read the book. The notes are sequenced in time.

Mind maps work on associations. They look kida like a bunch of neurons connecting info together. Also, they are colored which helps in associations.

If you are not already using them, you should check them out. Here’s a link to some images.

there’s always flash cards

nebule's avatar

@PerryDolia yes I do use mind maps…glad I’m getting something right :-)... and flash cards..yay!

wundayatta's avatar

In England, “revising” means what Americans call “studying.”

The best way for me to remember anything is not to remember the thing itself, but to create a model that allows me to make up the thing when I need it. If there are specific stupid facts that will appear on the exam, I’ll do what others have said—read it over and over. Then, after the exam, I promptly forget it.

What kind of exam is this that you have two months to do it in? A comprehensive exam for a PhD?

PerryDolia's avatar


One other technique.

Psychologists have learned that the mind indexes information while you sleep. So, everything you need to know, remember and understand has to be completed the day BEFORE you really need it. This lets the mind index that night.

If you try to cram right before the test, you just confuse yourself with a bunch of things you can’t index.

The only thing you could do right before is review a few specific facts like dates or people’s names.

ekans's avatar

For my studies, I use a software called anki. The way it works is that you make flash cards, and when you study them, the software will ask you how well you remembered the other side of the card, with four options from perfectly to not at all. based on that, the software sets the card to be recycled at a a certain time after that. if you didn’t know the card at all, then that is probably at the end of the session. if you knew it perfectly, it will be in about a week. If you keep answering the same card perfectly every time it comes up, the length of time gets longer, so the terms that you know don’t show up until every other month or so, just to remind you.
Anki is designed for more long term than you are probably wanting, but I think it could help. I started using it recently and it has done wonders for my Japanese.

nikipedia's avatar

Since the beginning of the scientific study of memory, one major finding has never been contradicted (that I know of): spaced training is better than massed training.

What that means is that if you study six hours at one time (massed training) you will never retain information as well as if you studied one hour at a time for six days (spaced training), even though you’ve spent just as much time studying. Interestingly, this holds true right down to the very proteins that build your memories.

erniefernandez's avatar

Explain each concept back to someone, revisiting topics as needed to keep them fresh. Practical examples will compound philosophical principles in your mind, and a cute tag (like “man and puppy analogy”) will help you recall them even faster.

Jeruba's avatar

@Lightlyseared and @lynneblundell, I didn’t know that! Thank you for enlarging my transatlantic vocabulary.

I’ve always found relationships to be a better tool for learning than memorization. If I can see the connections among things, how they fit together or compare or follow patterns or in any other way appear as parts of a larger whole, I can remember them better. I tend to do this visually (in my head), so maybe this would work for you if that is your learning style.

Sometimes outlining can help with this, depending on the subject matter.

Another great way to reinforce learning is to teach it to someone else, provided you can find a willing listener. Perhaps a virtual student would do.

drdoombot's avatar

Back in high school, I found that writing things by hand that I wanted to remember helped me to retain it (at least in the short term, for that semester’s tests).

Lately, I’ve found that the program Anki is quite useful.

nebule's avatar

@daloon I don’t have two months, I have another essay to write before then which is going to take me up to the six week mark before the exam..and it’s a segment of a BAHons Degree in Philosophy and Psychology

@ekans thanks for that…I’ve generally found that computer software for studying (such as mind mapping software) has taken up more time than it would just doing it by hand, but it certainly sounds interesting and I’ll consider this for next years course as I go along…I imagine inputting facts along the way would be well worthwhile…unless the very act of doing it all at the end would be revision in itself…hmmm

@nikipedia very interesting…so little and often is best! it’s just finding those little and often hours when the kindiwinks is around…I generally study when he takes his afternoon nap and when he goes to bed at night… Do you think it would work better if I interespresed my 2 hour study slots with 10 minutes fluthering here and there…or would that not be advisable! ;-)

@Jeruba I do find that talking to people about my studies does help incredibly and definintely reinstates facts in my head..unfortunately due to the subject matter and my current circle of friends..people generally switch off after 5 minutes of discussing the various merits of John Locke or Darwinism…they usually retort something like..“Gosh that’s Deep! and then change the subject! lol Maybe I could have a daily discussion topic on Fluther instead… :-/

Thank you all for your answers xx

Something that Nikipedia picked up on…the diet… What should I be eating during this stressful time for optimal brain capacity and retention and is me being on a diet (that makes me feel tired and listless) going to have detrimental effects?

wundayatta's avatar

@lynneblundell Maybe I could have a daily discussion topic on Fluther instead… :-/

I, for one, would love that. It would almost be like taking the course for free. Of course, you’d have to summarize the various points first, so we could know what you’re thinking about, but then, that would help you study, anyway! Win-win!

nebule's avatar

Cool…I’ll work on that then! I have one already up my sleeve actually… will get to it in a bit… must deal with the little one! x

janbb's avatar

I find highlighting the text I want to learn helps me retain it. I only once studied for a qualification that involved lots of memorization; most of my studies have involved essays and creative thinking. For that qualification, I highlighted the text and read it over frequently, took sample exams, etc.

Certainly, feeling listless and unenergetic (grouchy?) due to dieting will not help, but maybe you can find some satisfying low calorie “snacks” (fruit, carrots) that will keep your energy up. You may be working on too many fronts at once, and need to find ways to recharge yourself positively. Get out those comfort giving Q-tips, Lynne!

derekpaperscissors's avatar

I’m not sure it’s applicable but whenever we had individual orals for philo and given tons of thesis statements to memorize and not knowing which ones the prof will pick, we had to know them all.
The best way for me was to group study. Divide the topics among some peers, then focus on what you have. Then meet up, explain orally, your topics, and listen to theirs. After wards, discuss amongst yourselves, q & a, then finally, sum it all up repeat what you studied on and what they have taught you.
This way, you wouldn’t have to do all the memorizing as your peers have already broken it down for you.

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