Principles of Memory   back

The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
124 Osband




1. Intend to remember/learn. Before beginning study

Your intention is crucial. If you donít actively plan to remember something, you wonít remember it very well.

2. Get an "overview" of the task. Whenever you begin a new learning project

Getting a preview of the whole process youíre trying to learn will help you later as you read, practice, etc. Youíll be able to fill in details of each part if you start with a simplified version of the whole task first.

3. Review immediately after learning. At the end of each study session

Most forgetting takes place immediately after learning occurs--not two hours or two days later. Therefore, review immediately, even if just for a few minutes.

4. Learn actively. Always

Most learning time should be actively self-testing and practice rather than passively re-reading. Expose as many senses as possible to the material--read it, hear it, visualize it, etc.

5. Use an hour or two. When youíre trying to read a whole chapter

Complex learning such as understanding new relationships learning how to solve a problem requires longer periods of time for efficient learning.

6. Use two to five minutes. When you have a simple mechanical task or rote-memorization

Simple tasks and especially anything you have to memorize task are better learned in short, frequent practice sessions rather than an hour or two.

7. Practice what you have learned. In between the time you first learn something and the time youíre tested on it

Most forgetting takes place because people havenít periodically practiced or reviewed what they learned.

8. Learn in an organized way. Always

Youíll remember much more when you have a systematic, orderly view of what you have learned. If you have studied facts as isolated events without seeing relationships between them, then you will forget more quickly.

9. Set and understand the goals/objectives for your study session. At the beginning of any learning or retrieving session

This gives you a purpose and a complete overview of each study session, and it will help you become a more systematic and organized learner.