Improving Your Memory
Much of mathematics is a matter of practicing procedures until they are understood, rather than memorized.
However, learning math does require some memorization of formulas, definitions, and theorems, much like learning a foreign language.
- Registration: inputting the information into your mind
- Retention: keeping the information in your mind
- Recall: accessing the information previously stored
Pay attention to all of these aspects of memory as you try to improve in this area.
Suggestions for Improving Your Memory
- Decide that you want to memorize something. Your intention and attention to what needs to be memorized is critical your ability to do so.
- Study math every day. Memory requires repetition spread out over a long period of time. Studying math only once or twice a week is usually not sufficient to remember much.
- Make lists: vocabulary, formulas, properties, theorems. Look at these lists every day. Add to each list as you read through your textbook.
- Organize your lecture notes, examples, homework and other course materials. Sorting, classifying and organzing information is important to memorization and academic success in general.
- Make flash cards to carry around with important information that needs memorization. Look at the flashcards frequently throughout the day.
- To memorize a fact, test yourself:
- Ask your self the question. For example, "The area of a circle is...?"
- Then write out the answer, and speak the answer aloud as you write.
- If your answer is incorrect or if you don't remember, then write out the correct answer 10 times, speaking it aloud as you write.
- Repeat this process a few times per day until you always get the correct answer. Then practice less frequently.
- If you are a kinesthetic learner, then walk around or dance while studying your math.
- This technique engages your eyes, ears, hands, mouth and body. The more that you use all of your senses, the more your mind will remember.
- Be aware of what things you know and what you things you don't know.
- Pay attention to detail. Write your symbols and words carefully and precisely.
- As you work through the math course, look for patterns. The more patterns you recognize, the less you need to memorize.
- Make connections between new concepts and processes and properties that you have already learned. Synthezing information and seeing the "big picture" will help you to remember.
- Explain ideas to other people. Your memory is strengthened when you have to teach someone else.
- Practice! Practice! Practice!