Study tip: Remember information more effectively 

Why is it that some things stick in our minds forever and others we have to work so hard to retain?

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve shows that new information is lost exponentially without revision. It looks terrifying….

The Ebbinghaus experiments were done on himself, trying to remember short sequences of unrelated letters – most of us would find that hard. It has no context and is not meaningful for most people ( except if you like remembering strings of random letters!)

We have seen previously on this blog, that one way to help with retention of information is to revise the information regularly. This is important and to be most effective must use  active recall

There are other ways that you can give yourself the best chance of remembering the information you are learning in the longer term.

  1. Add the new information to a frame of knowledge that you already have – try to build your new knowledge on to well established memories. This is not always easy to do if learning totally new concepts. This technique could be used to layer information into your brain. It is a technique used by at least one previous part one candidate (see the 5th comment)
  2. Make the information you are learning meaningful. This one should be easier to achieve. We remember things that we think are important much more easily than things we don’t (which may explain why Ebbinghaus’s curve looks so pessimistic). Find relevance in what you plan to study. Build up a list of questions during your day at work – why did the blood pressure drop on induction? what might have caused that dodgy sats reading? – and study to find the answers when you get home.  This technique has also been used with success (see comment 6 in the above link). You will be using the knowledge gained through studying for the Primary Exam throughout your whole career – it’s your job.
  3. Look after yourself. Good nutrition, regular exercise, plenty of sleep and some time to relax, will all help your brain to function at it’s best. Do not under estimate the importance of this

As promised  the flying frigate bird – it’s a bit hard to photograph a moving target, but I did my best!


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