Total recall: strategies for memorizing class content while studying at UNYP

Whether you are studying Business, Child Development, or Political Science, all UNYP programs require you to memorize large amounts of information. When you take multiple courses, learning different material simultaneously can be challenging, especially during the exams. Many students feel that their memory is unreliable, but everybody can train and improve their ability to memorize things.

Practical learning tips for UNYP students 

In general, learning becomes more efficient once you introduce a system into your studies, class and exam prep. Where should you start? We’ve prepared some useful tips for studying effectively throughout the semester to ace your exams without pulling all-nighters. 

Pay attention in class

Last year’s pandemic forced universities worldwide to switch to online instruction, making it even harder for some of you to concentrate on your lectures and seminars. When attending the class in person, you were more likely to focus on the discussion, rather than sitting in front of your screen while having breakfast, texting your friends, and doing five other things at the same time. The common problem is an existing “I can catch up later and learn content by myself” mindset, which just wastes your valuable time. By actively paying attention in class, asking questions, and engaging in group discussions, you will find yourself knowing the material by the end of the course. Outside class, you will only need to revise and complete the homework assignments. If you do not pay attention, you will be forced to devote extra time to understanding the material discussed in class, without the luxury of being able to ask your professor to break down more complex concepts. Students who actively engage in class memorize the content faster, spend less time studying at home, and ultimately perform better academically. 

Be present 

It is essential that you actively engage your brain in class instead of learning on autopilot mode, meaning that you need to tell yourself it’s time to focus and actively listen to your instructor. To get your mind into work mode when attending a virtual class from home, try to stick to the same routine you would follow when studying on campus. Wake up before the class, shower, dress, have your coffee and breakfast. Organize yourself a comfortable work desk and chair and attend your courses from there, instead of lying on your bed or sofa. Put away your phone and tablet if you are easily distracted by them. Use a website blocker on your laptop if you keep wandering back to social media. 

Join the discussion 

Most UNYP instructors promote an active learning method, and encourage students to participate in group discussions during the class. When your professor poses a question to the group, never hesitate to answer and express your perspective. Group discussion on course content plays a vital role in understanding the subject, and group discussion on an issue involves the participants’ sharing of learning, which benefits all participants equally. By being friendly and respectful during the group debate, you will learn how to express and benefit from healthy constructive criticism. 

Understand the concept

If you don’t understand the underlying concepts, there is no point in memorizing your notes word for word. It is much harder to recall something that you do not understand than to remember a concept that you are well aware of. 

Breaking down the concept into manageable parts:

  • Understand the foundations of the topic
  • Understand the core of the issue – the key ideas
  • Define difficult terms
  • Familiarize yourself with the context
  • Break the concept down into smaller ideas and categorize them

It always helps to try to link what you’re learning with what you already know. Remember, the more links you can find, the better you can memorize something, because you will have more triggers for this information. 

Finding similarities between different concepts:

• Find links between related ideas

• Create analogies between different concepts

• Relate it to your personal experiences

Make notes 

By now, you are probably used to highlighting important material directly in books in Perlego. Physical notes can be extremely useful in helping you quickly revise material from multiple sources without having to flip through the entire textbook. Take advantage of your notes and review them immediately when you finish writing them. Don’t forget to color code! 

Practice interleaving

Interleaving is the principle of combining or modifying the concepts or ideas you want to memorize. For example, take some time to learn your Public Speaking presentation, rehearse it, then immediately turn to historical dates and names for your History of International Systems course, follow it with International Law, then jump back to the presentation. This approach can seem confusing at first, but once you get used to this learning method, you will see that the results are better than spending long periods on the same idea.

Healthy body = healthy mind 

Last but not least…you already know this one, don’t you? Eat healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep. When you sleep, the brain undergoes a memory-building phase that consolidates your recent memory into long-term memory. Make sure that you sleep a minimum of 7-8 hours nightly to help your academic performance. 

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