Strategies of Improving Memory and Study Skills


Memory is the recollection of past or stored information and using it in the present. Individuals vary in the capacity of containing information in the brain, while some may possess short- or long-term memorization abilities. Some people have long memories while others suffer from memory failure, which needs practical approaches to improve the memorization of information. Students also need strategies for improving memory during exams and tests because of the large academic content one acquires during the course. Psychologically, the brain recollects information or events through encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is the process of learning or perceiving information and relating it to particular events or knowledge. Storage maintains information over time while retrieving it when the situation demands it.

However, one of the processes can fail, leading to memory failure. Thus, individuals need to develop strategies for ensuring effective encoding and storage of information for better recollection. This essay explains how students can improve their memory during studies through effective encoding, storage, and retrieval processes.


A person must move information from short-term to long-term memory for effective retrieval of information. Rehearsal is one of the most effective ways of having long-term memory of events and knowledge. The technique refers to repeating or rehearsing information until it sticks to the brain for a more extended period. Rehearsal helps in encoding and remembering information in short-term memory, which can be used for some time (Doyle-Portillo & Pastorino, 2015). For example, repeating a number, shopping list, or script, and once the information has served the purpose, one can forget. Individuals with higher memory capacities can keep the information much longer than people with low memory capacities. Rehearsing is a practical skill for improving student memory during short tests or exams. A student can rehearse essential concepts such as formulas and multiplication tables mentally or orally and remember them in exams.

Alternatively, students can rehearse more uncomplicated facts of complex material while studying and integrate the knowledge during exams. Integrating general knowledge with new or complex information is known as an elaborative rehearsal. According to Myers and DeWall (2021), elaborative rehearsal helps perceive information more deeply and may lead to permanent storage. It involves giving meaning to information using past events or acquired knowledge to retrieve information when needed. For instance, using a subject topic to remember the contents of the subject during an exam. Thus, it becomes easier to retrieve and link memories with the present situation and make meaningful ideas and solutions through integration.


Organizing information involves grouping and connecting important information for easy recollection. Well-organized and structured ideas are easier to encode into the brain leading to faster recollection. Myers and DeWall (2021) explain that dividing and organizing work helps manage large amounts of information because the brain can perceive bits of information faster than trying to contain much information at once, which can be overwhelming, leading to memory failure.

Methods of organizing information include chunking and outlining or listing work in a particular order. Chunking involves grouping information into smaller parts for the brain to process the information in stages (Doyle-Portillo & Pastorino, 2015). For example, students can group a topic into subtopics that highlight the main content of the subject. Students can use this technique during studies by organizing and grouping work in amounts that the brain can perceive at a time. After grouping, a student can take intervals of reading and resting to give the brain enough time to process the information for future recollection.

A hierarchical outline involves listing information in order of association between one level and the next. The first hierarchy should connect to the other levels forming a sequence that creates meaning or a solution. The order of information is also vital in recalling concepts and is commonly known as the serial position (Doyle-Portillo & Pastorino, 2015). Sequencing events or data from the easiest to complex can help in perceiving and recollection without straining the brain, which can cause memory failure. The multiplication table is an example of a number sequence that students can apply during studies and exams. Outlining ideas in a sequence helps the brain encode the thoughts quickly because they provide order to produce a meaningful connection (Myers & DeWall, 2021). Students can use the approach to cluster ideas that relate to each other and enhance easier recollection and long-term memory by repeating the sequence.

Mental Imagery

Visualizing ideas and concepts also enhances memory because Images help retain information longer than words. Many people recall visual images such as photographs, actual images, and charts. The brain can process visual images faster than verbal and written information. According to (Doyle-Portillo & Pastorino, 2015), the brain processes up to 93% of visual information, whereas verbal and visual communication accounts for 7%. Students can study by creating visual images of the concepts and forming events, making them easier to recall during exams. Integrating written and visual information results in dual coding of information, and if written or verbal memory fails, images can help recollect the knowledge. For example, a student can create an imaginary event in the world which can assist in describing the effects or causes of the event. Visualizing classwork helps engage with the topic profoundly and create an abstract description that stays in the brain longer than verbal knowledge.

Changing Study Locations

Reading at different places enhances memory through multiple interactions, which boosts brain processes that enhance memory. Myers and DeWall (2021) describe the brain’s activity in different places as mental scaffolding, which means the mind finds something new or exciting to associate with. The brain also encodes physical cues during studying, which helps if the person remembers and relates to the particular surroundings. Students also encode their physical environment incidentally when reading, which provides cues for recollection of the information. For example, when a student studies in the library, they can recall particular features that were encoded along with the content and recollect the concepts during the exam. Thus, changing environments ensure each study time or topic is associated with a particular physical environment for better recollection.

At the same time, studying the exam location also enhances memory (Myers and DeWall, 2021). Like the physical surroundings, the exam room provides context encoded during studying, giving clues and information recollection.


Recollection of information and events depends on the effectiveness of encoding and storing the data. Students must study hard for better performance. However, studying hard can be meaningless if the information is forgotten during an exam. For compelling recollection, psychologists advise rehearsing the same content until it sticks to the brain for future reference. Although rehearsal involves short-term memory, elaborative rehearsal, which involves integrating the known and the unknown, can lead to long-term memory. Organizing ideas and concepts help in recollection because the information is easy to process in smaller amounts than absorbing the entire content at once.

Another memory-enhancing technique is creating mental images of written or verbal information. The brain processes images faster than words enabling easy recollection. Finally, variation in study location helps with encoding content with the physical environment, which provides cues during exams. Following these strategies is significant in recalling concepts without much strain during exams.


Doyle-Portillo, S., & Pastorino, E. (2015). What is psychology? South-Western.

Myers, D. G., & DeWall, C. N. (2021). Psychology. Worth Publishers.

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PsychologyWriting. "Strategies of Improving Memory and Study Skills." December 14, 2022.