The most common way to learn at any university is to go to class, listen and be a diligent note-taker. Being consistent allows you to make the best out of your student life. However, the time has come to take finals and if you didn’t keep up on studying your notes, you might need some tactics to make it through your final week. So here are some tried and true methods to help you remember—and retain—an entire semester’s worth of information.
Maybe you’ve heard someone mutter in the back of a science class, My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos. If you haven’t heard this, then you’re missing out on an excellent way of remembering the order of planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, & Uranus (RIP Pluto). The first letter of each word corresponds to the first letter of a planet. Sometimes, word associations for very basic things, like nachos and our moms, help us to remember things that are new to us. Although we may not need this specific mnemonic anymore, at a university most things are new to you and therefore, creating a mnemonic that meets your needs can be a wonderful study tool.
Lecture classes can typically be pretty listening-heavy and unfortunately, difficult to pay attention. It is known that our senses work together to gather information about what’s going on around us and send all of this information to our brain to interpret it and turn it into a piece of knowledge*. Therefore, it makes sense that getting more of your senses involved will help you have a better understanding of the information you are learning. While studying your notes (or any other materials you’ve gathered from class), try to highlight only important information and craft a chart or graph to organize the information into a succinct and easy-to-remember picture!
*You can read about this amazing study here: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/science/continuum/Pages/sensesworking.aspx
3. Flash Cards
Sometimes, it’s best to go back to the basics. As you may recall, engaging more of our senses can help our understanding of a subject and notecards are just the way to engage physical touch. The processing of seeing material on a notecard and physically flipping it back and forth can help create memories to recall on the day of the test. Understandably, not all students can afford physical notecards—especially when we have hundreds of terms or facts to remember! A useful tool I’ve found is Quizlet—a free online notecard application. Click here to explore this tool: https://quizlet.com/
Sometimes looking at something and memorizing it isn’t enough—especially when it comes to mathematics or formal sciences. Yes, maybe you might have to memorize an equation, but that won’t help you solve it. The best way to master something is simply by practicing. If you have access to a whiteboard or a stack of scratch paper, get ready to do the same equation with different numbers at least 5 times correctly or until you feel comfortable.
5. Office Hours
If you have made an effort this semester, chances are your professor will appreciate you coming to them if there is something that you still don’t understand or cannot figure out how to commit to memory. Who better to help you than someone who has gone through years of education? Going to a professor’s office hours helps build a rapport with your professor and shows them that you either have a passion for learning or genuinely care about your education. Either way, some one-on-one time is guaranteed to create a better understanding before the big test.
I know that with these little tricks, you can commit the information to memory and get the grades you want. From everyone here at AUM, we wish our students, as well as other students, the best of luck in their final’s week!