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Home > Study skills > Learning strategies > Memory

Our memories are usually much better than we think. Almost everybody can develop their memory further.

Knowing your own mind

Everybody has different learning styles and memory styles. Think how you remember at least three of the following:

1. What was on TV last night?

2. How to spell ‘beautiful’?

3. Your telephone number?

4. How to walk upstairs?

5. The colours of the rainbow?

6. What day it is today?

7. The way to the canteen from your lecture hall?

8. Your birthday?

9. Someone else’s birthday?

10. What a barbecue is like?

Do you use the same strategy to remember each item?

Do you use more than one strategy to remember each?

Memory preferences

Each person will have his or her own set of ways of remembering any one thing. Each person will also find it easier to remember something difficult by using a different combination of strategies. Some people are outstanding at remembering things they hear aloud - so it makes sense for them to say out loud what they need to remember. Other people find they remember what they read if they sing it to themselves. Others remember things by associating them with places or people. This may feel unusual - but use what works for you. For complex and important things, you increase you chances of remembering them if you:

1. Use the strategies that work best for you.

Use more than one strategy.

Make a conscious effort to commit the information to memory.

Do this on at least three occasions.

Memory strategies

Some useful strategies include:

1. Putting the information to music. Try singing it.

2. Using colour. Colour code information, or use different highlighter pens for different purposes.

3. Walking to new places as you try to remember something.

4. Linking the information to other things that are relevant to you.

5. Working with the information: write it out, say it, draw it, colour it in, discuss it, argue against it, summarise it, organise it into the best order.

6. Numbering the different aspects.

7. Organising the information into a smaller number of pieces, each with its own heading, name or label.

8. Making a model of it out of clay, blocks or other material.

9. Finding out something else about it.

10. Remembering things in groups of three or five items.

11. Using several of these approaches for the same item.

  • Select something that you find difficult to remember. Choose at least two ways of remembering this from the ‘useful memory strategies’ list. If this works, you have gained a memory strategy. If not, try again with different strategies. Note which ones work best for you.

  • What use would it be for you to improve your memory?
  • What could you do to improve your own memory?


The Study Skills Handbook For further information please see Chapter 8 of The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell.