How to memorise your notes for exams

So, you’ve got mountains of notes on every possible subject that could come up in your exams, but suddenly you’re wondering what the best way to remember information is. Don’t panic – we’ve investigated the science behind how our memory works to put together our top tips to help you remember better for exams. 

How memory works

The goal when you're revising is to convert information (your ‘notes’) from your working memory (what we think about at any one point) to long-term memory, so you are able to retrieve this information later in an exam. Memories are stronger if they are personally relevant or meaningfully associated with things we like or care about. 

Create mental associations

Do some exercise

It might sound counter-intuitive, but taking even just a 20 minute walk before your exam rather than sitting and going over your notes desperately can improve your memory and brain power! Don’t walk too far away though or you might (ironically) forget to come back for your exam in time…

Revise aloud

No, that’s not a tenuous Girls Aloud tribute band – it’s another memory hack. You’re 50 per cent more likely to remember something you’re revising if you say it out loud; it’s called the generation effect, which leads to better later recall than simple reading. Why not try this with a tricky topic and see if it makes a difference (background music of Girls Aloud Best Of album optional).

The pomodoro technique

The key is transferring information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, and the way to do this is through repetition and practice, using different techniques to revise the same concepts.

As boring as the repetition may be, you’ll be so grateful once everything floods out in the exam. The hardest part is scrubbing it from your memory once you don’t need it anymore!

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