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Teen Study Skills: Memorizing for High School Exams

March 11, 2016
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Teen Study Skills: Memorizing for High School Exams

Boosting memory study skills for exams

One of the core study skills required by high school students is the ability to remember what has been studied. The more powerful the recall, the easier it is to prepare for exams.

There are two types of memory work required by teens in high school:

(a) general memorizing of ideas and concepts;

(b) memorizing of specific phrases and formula.

Memorizing ideas and concepts

Study skills that require memorizing of ideas and concepts are skills relating to the understanding of the subject matter at hand. Here, the student uses general memory to remember ideas and concepts without remembering the exact words or phrases used in the textbook or by the teacher.

Remembering ideas and concepts is only possible if the student fully understands the idea or concept. The student must have the ability to write or provide an accurate explanation of the idea or concept without having to refer to the textbook. Memory cannot be improved upon unless the student has such full understanding of the work.

Use the following methods to gain full understanding of an idea or a concept:

  • think about the idea or concept and how the idea or concept would apply in different situations.
  • highlight keywords or key phrases in the textbook or notes that are important to the idea or concept.
  • draw your own illustrations or create your own examples of how the idea or concept works, making sure that you use the keywords or key phrases that you have highlighted.
  • write bullet points using the illustrations and examples you have created.
  • form associations from one bullet point to the next to improve recall.
  • finally, explain the idea or concept to a friend or teacher or parent without looking at your textbooks or notes.
  • if past exam papers are available, do them and get them marked. This is your chance to get feedback from your teachers before the real exam.

Memorizing specific phrases and formula

On the other hand, study skills required for memorizing specific phrases and formula are skills which can be improved upon through practice. This sort of memorizing work is called verbatim memorizing. It is used particularly in science and math subjects (e.g. chemical formulas, data elements, math formulas) and in English literature and foreign languages.

Verbatim memory can be improved by following these steps:

  • highlight or mark up the parts or formulas required to be remembered;
  • understand the context in which the part or formula is written (especially with English literature and other social science subjects);
  • write the part or formula down in a notebook;
  • use one or more of the following ways to memorize:
    • say the part or formula out loud a few times and try to recall it without having to refer to your notes;
    • repeat the part or formula at any odd times e.g. in the bath or shower, on the way to school and so on;
    • use:
      • mnemonics as a way to make an accurate recall. Mnemonics is a way of replacing lists, numbers and words that must be remembered in a particular order with acronyms, other words or rhymes that can provide an easier recall. For example, the acronym HOMES can be used to memorize the names of the North American Great Lakes. The acronym matches the letters of the five lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior); or
      • an image as a visual representation of the part or formula to be recalled.

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