Some of us always wonder how to remember so much information for exams. In a class of thirty or forty all the students listen to the same teacher, use the same text books and write the same exam, but some seem to remember everything and some almost nothing, even after spending long hours studying. There are some genetic influences on memory, but it is possible to improve memory and retrieval of information using some strategies, which are commonly known as mnemonics. It is often thought that the use of mnemonics can help even those with memory defects. A very common mnemonic that all of us are familiar with is VIBGYOR. Very few of us can name the colours of the rainbow without using this memory aid. Another one is the use of the knuckles to find out how many days are there in a particular month.
The most common technique used is to transform something that is not meaningful to something meaningful. For example, if you have to remember the classification system, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species in biology you can memorize the sentence “Kings Play Chess On Fine Gold Sets ” to make it easier. This sentence gives not only cues, but helps with the order also.
Another technique is known as the “Method of loci” where you associate something you have to remember to something you are very familiar with. For example if you have to remember the grocery list, you can associate the list to things you will see on the way. Tomatoes on the door, your cat drinking milk and rice instead of sand in front of your house and form a mental image making it easier to remember the list.
Another commonly used technique is repetition. This is a very old and often ridiculed method. However, evidence shows that the memory trace in the brain becomes strengthened on repetition. By giving meaning, forming associations and repetition, it is possible to improve memory significantly.