General Principles 1. Attention (Concentration) It requires intense concentration to remember new information. When studying, it’s more effective to concentrate on one subject or concept at a time. 2. Interest It’s difficult to concentrate on uninteresting subjects. Most people do not struggle concentrating on personally significant issues. Therefore, when studying uninteresting concepts, personalize the subject. This is known as ego involvement. If it’s not possible to personalize a subject, develop another motivation for learning it. It could be information useful for your future career, something friends are interested in, or you might be uninterested because you lack confidence in your ability to understand it. Regardless of interest, you still must understand boring concepts to earn good grades. Many students develop interest in boring subjects once they understand them. If you struggle understanding a new concept, take time to analyze and associate it with familiar concepts. Once you understand it better, your interest will more than likely be increased. 3. Confidence You must be confident to learn and retain new concepts. Do not be pessimistic if you struggle. Never hesitate to ask for help. Once you begin grasping new concepts, your confidence will increase. 4. Starting Right Even if it’s time consuming, focus on mastering new concepts. Many concepts build upon others. Do not rush learning. 5. Selection Before study sessions, select the most significant topics to review. For example, to understand certain principles in physics, you must have a solid understanding of math. Additionally, do not waste time reviewing understood concepts. Rather, spend time studying unfamiliar or unclear concepts. 6. Understanding There are multiple types of memorization. Rote memorization, a method where information is reviewed until it can be recalled verbatim, is often employed by students learning to multiply and memorize equations. Understanding-based memorization is employed by students who must understand generalized concepts, such as theories. It’s easier to retain information that is related to familiar concepts. While studying, relate recently acquired knowledge with concepts you’ve already mastered. Always strive to have a well-rounded understanding of what you’re studying. 7. Building Background It’s easier to develop an in-depth understanding of a concept and relate to other topics once you’ve developed thorough background knowledge on a subject. It’s difficult to fully comprehend isolated concepts. Experts are able to connect new information with current knowledge. In other words, the best way to enhance your understanding of a specific subject is to develop well-rounded knowledge. Acquiring background knowledge is also a great way to increase interest in a subject. 8. Organization While processing new information, look for ways to effectively organize it. It’s common for students to experience information overload. To remedy this, look for ways to classify information in much the same way it’s organized in textbooks. For example, if you were learning about organs in a physiology class, it is much easier to remember the 12 organ systems than the 78 organs making up these systems. Once you’re able to associate organs with their respective systems, it will be much easier to remember names and functions. As your study progresses, you’ll be able to link supplementary concepts with underlying ones, which will enable you to retain more information. 9. Whole and Parts Briefly summarize a textbook chapter prior to reading it to develop a generalized understanding of what you’ll be learning. Then, breakup your reading into sections. 10. Recitation After you’ve read a chapter, take a few minutes to re-summarize it. This method is one of the most active learning strategies students can employ. Simultaneously, you’ll be testing your understanding of the subject. Auditory learners are encouraged to read aloud. This method should also be used if you do not understand what you’re reading. 11. Notetaking Visual learners are encouraged to take detailed notes since they learn better through generating visual mental images. Auditory learners are encouraged to do likewise. When taking notes, write clear sentences in your own words. Taking notes is more effective than underlining text. Students frequently underline excessive amounts of text, which can lead to confusion. After reading a chapter in a textbook, review lecture notes. 12. Review It’s most effective to conduct reviews immediately after learning a new concept. Spend more time reviewing material near the middle of a chapter since you’ll probably remember content near the beginning and end of chapters. 13. Spaced Practice or Distributed Practice Do not cram before a test. Rather, organize multiple study sessions spaced out between a period of weeks or days. You’ll more than likely remember information periodically reviewed during the course of a few weeks. 14. Overlearning Excessive study often leads to overlearning. Although this may seem negative, students who’ve overlearned a concept often remember what they’ve studied with little effort. Students should employ overlearning when studying complex or difficult to understand concepts. Do not spend too much time reviewing understood content. 15. Sleeping Over It If possible, study just prior to sleeping. However, this is not recommended if you’re tired or ill. Newly learned concepts are more easily recalled after sleeping since retroactive interference occurs, but this is not the case for everyone.
copied directly from: http://www.collegeatlas.org/how-to-retain-information.html