You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!
The first step is to think of an English keyword that is similar to the foreign word. For example, the French word for "fish" is "poisson" so your keyword might be "poison" because it is similar to the French word. Try to pick a noun for the keyword, because it will make the next step easier.
The second step is to visualize an association between your English keyword and the English translation of the foreign word. In this case, we would visualize an association between "fish" and "poison." Maybe you could visualize a toxic pond with all the fish floating on the surface, or maybe you would picture someone eating some fish and then dropping over dead. The more dramatic you make your visualizion, the more effective it will be as a memory tool.
Now, if you need to remember the French word for "fish," you will remember the visual scene and will recall the word "poison." This will lead you to the correct word "poisson."
This technique can also work in reverse - going from the foreign word to the English translation.
The proper way to highlight a text is to read a section all the way through without highlighting anything. Then think about the important points and summarize the section in your head. Now reread the section and highlight the most important facts. You will only be able to pick out the key phrases after you have truly understood the material.
Another benefit of this method is the use of repetition which will help you remember the important parts of the material. Proper highlighting will give you a good way to review the text later, which will be very helpful if you are using the SQ3R study method.
To create an acronym, take the first letters of the items that you are trying to remember and make a new word out of them. For example the word "BRASS" can be used to remember how to shoot a rifle: Breath, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze. "CART" could be used to remember your grocery list: Carrots, Apples, Radishes, and Turnips.
An acrostic is similar to an acronym, but instead of making a word out of the first letters, you make a sentence. For example, you could remember the phrase "My very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas" to learn the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
These mnemonics work by making the material more meaningful and by chunking it. They change the task from recall to aided recall, which is much easier, and they tell you the number of items you are supposed to remember, which can be quite helpful.
Making up acronyms and acrostics can also help stretch your creativity because you'll be inventing new words and silly phrases.
One step down from recall is aided recall. This describes the type of memory where you cannot remember it until you are given a hint (for example: your first grade teacher's name starts with a B). Mnemonics help with memories in this stage by providing the cues to help you recall the information. This is why mnemonics work so well! You don't have to study the facts as much in order to remember them.
If you are unable to recall the information, then you may have only memorized the information to the point of recognition. At this stage, you are unable to recall the information even if aided, but once the material is shown to you, you instantly remember it. This is why multiple-choice tests are easier than fill-in-the-blank tests. You only have to recognize the answer, not recall it.
If you learned the fact at some point and now have forgotten it to a point where you can't even recognize it, then your memory may be in the relearnable stage. In this stage, there is some evidence of previous learning because you learn it much faster the second time around. An example of this would be relearning a foreign language that you learned many years ago, but forgot.
In this first step, you should take no more than 5 minutes to get an overview of what the chapter or book is about. Read the preface, table of contents, chapter titles, headings, graphs, summaries, etc. This will give you an outline of what you are about to learn which will help you know what to expect.
Survey the material again, but stop at each section and ask yourself some questions about what you hope to learn by reading that material. This step helps increase your interest in the topic and focus your attention on what you will be learning.
Read the material. Don't take notes or highlight anything yet. The first time you read through the material, you don't yet know which facts are important, so taking notes is difficult and inefficient.
In this step, you should try to answer the questions you asked in the Question step. Look back at the material only if necessary. Talking out loud to yourself isn't necessary, but it can help reinforce the information. Recitation also provides Feedback. Spend at least half of your time on this step.
Survey the book again and take note of which areas you were able to recite successfully and which areas you were not. You can study the weak areas again later. A review right after studying will help solidify the material in your mind. Periodic reviews at later dates will refresh your memory and help relearn material that you have forgotten.
- Memory Tests - Determine how good your memory is.
- Flash Cards - Create and use flash cards to learn new information.
- Vocab Builder - Build a better vocabulary with these words from the SAT and GRE standardized tests.