Memory Tips

What is the difference Recognition and recall?

Recognition is an easier stage of memory than the recall stage. For example, in an examination it is much easier to recognize an answer to a question if five options are listed than to recall the answer without the options listed.

Do fast learners remember better?

Dr. Ian M. L. Hunter of the University of Edinburgh says, "The slow student who works out his lesson until he is more than thoroughly familiar with every aspect of it remembers more than his colleague who barely masters it and no more."

Do women have better memories than men?

Numerous studies on memory show that there is no consistent difference between men and women when it comes to the retentive abilities.

Why are separate items, rotely learned, more difficult to retain than meaningful ideas?

Separate, discrete items (such as lists of terms or facts) learned by rote rare especially difficult to retain for the following reasons:

  1. it is hard to fit them into a category;
  2. it is hard to associate them with other ideas already in the mind;
  3. since they are isolated, meaningless items, they must be "parroted," and such drudgery is distasteful. Unfortunately, some material, like languages and scientific formulas, must be learned by rote. Whenever possible, try to comprehend the material first. Do not learn by rote what can be learned by reasoning.

Is memory Affected by age?

Yes! As far as learning ideas and facts is concerned, people over 30 are slower, especially in formal, academic situations. However, the older people make up for this relative slowness by their retentiveness since they have more accumulated experiences to which they can associate the new material.

Does over-learning lead to better retention?

Yes! After you have recited a lesson long enough to say it perfectly, if you continue reciting it a few times more, you will over-learn it. Ebbinghaus said that each additional recitation engraves the mental trace deeper and deeper, thus establishing a base for long-range retention. Actually, over-learning follows the first principle of remembering: learn the material accurately and thoroughly in the first place.

For many people, over-learning is difficult to practice because, by the time they achieve bare mastery, they are eager to drop the subject and go on to something else.

When we forget, is all the previous effort wasted?

All is not lost when you forget material which you earlier studied thoroughly. Forgetting almost inevitably takes place when you do not rehearse or use such material. You will be surprised, however, when you begin to relearn the "forgotten" material. Such material will be relearned in just a fraction of the time it took to learn it originally. This is true even after years of disuse.

It is generally agreed among psychologists that the ease and rapidity of relearning some "forgotten" material is a function of the original number of recitations of that material. This is a basic law of learning.