How to remember what you learn

  • As a University student, you need to remember a lot of information to excel in your academic endeavor. In essence, given the enormous amount of academic tasks before you to accomplish, you need to employ various smart ways to get them done.

    Unfortunately, it’s difficult to retain new information. The lectures you attend in class are just too much, the articles you read in your Smartphone are much, and the various set of things you learn on your favorite TV channels are just too many to remember. Well, if you find it difficult to remember what you learn, you are not alone. A lot of us are dealing with this problem.

    But here’s the good news: You can remember everything you learn. Here are some simple techniques to help you through:

    Store information in memory palace

    The orators of the ancient Greece used to memorize long text of a speech, and they do so by storing their speech in a memory palace. For example, they store one or two in the bedroom section of their palace and some other information in other sections – living room, restroom, dining area, etc. 

    It’s easier to recall, for example, where in your home you keep your money or drop your credentials. That’s why this technique is effective. 

    You can use it to remember what you learn. Try the information you have just read. Let’s say you read multiple definitions of anthropology. As you read the various definitions, try storing each definition in your home. In your compound, imagine a tall man digging the floor of your compound, unearthing remains of some old artifacts.  You can easily remember this as you face your question paper during the exams.

    Establish emotional connection

    We are naturally driven by emotions. It’s easier to remember specific things that happened, five years ago, in a single photo shot than to just think about it out of the blue. Because you can easily link the image with your feelings, you can easily recall the details about that image.

    You can use this technique to remember a large chunk of information. Rather than try to remember 10 pages of a handout, try to relate each topic of the material with a specific image that connects with your emotion. For example, to remember a history of Biafra, try linking the civil war with the death of someone that died within that year.

    Try a mnemonic

    Mnemonics are important learning tools that you can use to remember things. According to Peter Brown in the book, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, “mnemonics are not tools for learning per se, but for creating mental structures that make it easier to retrieve what you have learned.”

    For example, you can use the mnemonic name of Roy G. Biv to remember the colors of the spectrum (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). In situations where you have to memorize some information, this technique will help you do this with ease.

    Relate your new learning to prior knowledge

    You can easily remember what you have learned if you relate your new-found knowledge with prior knowledge. For example, if you want to remember a name of a politician or a journalist, you can relate their names with their political party or the media they work for.

    You’ll recall their names easier because you associate their names with the prior knowledge you have. “The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge,” the authors of “Make It Stick” write, “the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.”


    You can easily remember everything you learn. All you need is to master the tools and techniques that will make it easy for you to do so. The aforementioned tips will help you if you put them into practice. Start with one or two technique and see how things go before you commit to applying all the tips to your learning exercise. You can also read these 10 tips to help you boost your performance.

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