10 Ways To Improve Your Memory

Excerpt taken from New Cutting Edge: Intermediate: Student’s Book

A good memory is often seen as something that comes naturally, and a bad memory as something that cannot be changed, but actually there is a lot that you can do to improve your memory. However, it does mean taking responsibility and making an effort. Here are the experts’ top tips.

1. Take an interest ? make an effort

We all remember the things we are interested in and forget the ones that bore us. This no doubt explains the reason why schoolboys remember football results effortlessly but struggle with dates from their history lessons! Take an active interest in what you want to remember, and focus on it consciously. One way to ‘make’ yourself more interested is to ask questions ? the more the better!

2. Repeat things

Repeating thins is the best way to remember things for a short time, e.g. remembering a phone number for a few seconds. ‘Chunking’ or grouping numbers helps you to remember them, e.g. the following numbers would be impossible for most of us to remember: 1492178919318483. But look at them in ‘chunks’, and it becomes much easier: 1492 1789 1931 8483.

3. Form a mental picture

Another way to make something more memorable is to think about something visual associated with it. Form a mental picture, and the stranger the picture the better you will remember it! If an English-speaking person studying Spanish wanted to remember the Spanish word for duck, ‘pato’, he/she could associate it with the English verb ‘to pat’ and imagine a picture of someone patting a duck on the head.

4. Invent a story

To remember long lists, try inventing a story which includes all the items you want to remember. In experiments, people were asked to remember up to 120 words using this technique and when they were tested afterwards, on average they could remember ninety percent of them!

5. Organise your ideas

If we organise what we know in a logical way then when we learn more about that subject we understand that better, and so add to our knowledge more easily. Make well-organized notes. Be sure things are clear in your mind. If not, ask questions until you understand!

6. Listen to Mozart

Many experts believe that listening to classical music, especially Mozart, helps people to organise their ideas more clearly and so improves their memory. Sadly, rock music does not have the esame effect!

7. Take mental exercise

If you do not want to lose your memory as you get older, you need to keep your brain firt, just like your body: ‘use it or lose it‘ is the experts’ advice. Logic puzzles, crosswords and mental arithmetic are all good ‘mental aerobics’.

8. Take physical exercise

Physical exercise is also important for your memory, because it increases your heart rate and sends more oxygen to your brain, and that makes your memory work better. Exercise also reduces stress, which is very bad for the memory.

9. Eat the right things

The old saying that ‘eating fish makes you brainy‘ may be true after all. Scientists have discovered that the fats found in fish like tuna, sardines and salmon ? as well as in olive oil ? help to improve the memory. Vitamins C and E (found in fruits like oranges, strawberries and red grapes) and vitamin B (found in lean meat and green vegetables) are all good ‘bran food’, too.

10. Drink coffee

Caffeine may not be good for you, but like exercise, it increases your heart rate and sends more oxygen to your brain. A cup of coffee really does help you concentrate when you sit down to study. And if you don’t like coffee, don’t worry ? experts believe that chewing gum has the same effect!

29 Replies to “10 Ways To Improve Your Memory”

  1. Hi. I am an IGCSE 1 students from Vietnam. And this Thursday I will have a mock exam. In business. But I am scared that I can’t memorize all. Could you tell me tips to study it?

    • Hi Andrew,

      First, relax. Make sure you?re well rested before you sit for an examination. Then, do targeted revision. Revise on the most common mistakes you always seem to make. Read and annotate your textbook for the questions you got wrong. This is because you won?t have much time to go through the whole textbook. Then, re-do those questions you got wrong.

  2. Hey! I’m a grade10 student and I’m gonna face my boards this march 2018 and my mock exams are approaching this Dec but I’m freaked out as for my boards I’m having History paper1 and Maths paper2….how do i just organise myself??? Please help me prepare for this…..

    • Hello Adhi,
      You must first make a timetable for these 2 subjects, and make sure that you have enough time to finish the revision for both. Take small step at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

  3. Hello there,I m a grade 10 student from MALDIVES.i am going to be sitting in the exam 0ct/nov 2017. I have 2 IGCSE subjects(English 0510,and maths 0580 extended). The other3 subjects are GCSE (physics5040,chemistry5070,and biology5090) I do well in English although I m expecting a A* I do need improvement in letter and article. So I m struggling with new vocabulary. As for chemistry and maths to be honest I have all my expectations down. At 8th grade maths was easy but in grade 9 and 10 I find a lot of difficulty tbh its soo hard ? . From grade 9 onwards I don?t understand the concepts in the lessons even if my teacher explains I tried looking at youtube videos also but until now I still find chemistry boring I m trying really hard to improve it but I m unable to do chemistry pastpapers even by looking at the marking scheme! I tried getting help frm friends who finished their IGCSES but until know I am failing in each exam. This site is my only hope for gods sake can you please help me !!!! as for physics I do undersatand the notes but I am unable to do the past paper as past paper questions need a lot of common sence to do n I lACK in that department. My bio teacher recently changed and the new teacher is really bad in explaining stuff so I am finding difficulty in understanding the (plant and humanreproduction chapter,inheritance chapter).the new teacher isn?t familiar with igcse she dosent know how to answer the questions. So its really hard to do past paper questions even if I refer to the marking scheme. I would love to take your revision courses but my parents refused. My classmates are very competitive in studies so they don?t explain even if I ask.Can you please respond to this message through my email ? please???? I will be very grateful. I have exam fear now also I m telling my mom that Ill fail in chem n maths. I really want to do great and be in this countries top ten awards so please help me. I have a lot of dreams for the future so please don?t let me down.

    • Hi Zarahilmy,

      First of all, you can improve your vocabulary by learning a small number of new words every day. You can visit sites like vocabulary.com. Remember that you must practice putting your new words into your writing and speaking or risk not retaining them in your brain. Use repetition exercises when you first learn a word — and consider other learning techniques, such as index cards, recording yourself reciting your words, association games, and mnemonics – whichever works best for you.

      You can also use the exam model answers (http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/) to improve your writing.

      With Maths, Physics, and Chemistry, you?ll need a lot of practice. Start your revision as early as possible and spend at least 2 to 3 hours every day on revising. But, you have to first, RELAX. You can?t solve problems when you?re stressed. Relax your mind. By doing this, you will be able to focus more. Read this, it helps: http://www.igcsecentre.com/how-to-handle-your-stress-when-exam-is-approaching/

      1. Learn and understand the key concepts and formulas. Familiarise/memorise the key equations/formulas (refer to the latest syllabus on what is expected: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/ ).

      2. Do revision based on the latest syllabus and practice with the latest past exam papers (http://igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/ ). Pay attention to the most common mistakes you always seem to make. Make notes and revise them, so you can avoid making the same mistakes in your actual exam.

      Minimize your reference checks. Try solving a problem with the formula without looking it up. You MUST do this as many times as you can. You will be able to remember the formulas/key equations better when you repeat this step.

      You can also try associating the formulas with certain things you enjoy, for example, a TV show. You could also use Quizlet – it?s a fun flashcard website that turns your flashcards into games, and more. You can also use Quizlet to improve your Vocabulary.

      Lastly, start your revision early. DO NOT wait until the very last minute to do your revision. Come up with a study timetable and make sure you follows them.

  4. Hi! I’m very like this page and I want to summary it. But I don’t have much time. Can you summary ” 10 ways to improve your memory” to me? Please!!!!

    • Hi Sheila,
      This article is actually a “Summary” 🙂

      We have included only the main part. Otherwise, it would be a book! 😀

  5. Heyy IGCSE Team,
    I’ve already completed all Paper 6’s for Science IGs, and the Practical Papers for ICT. I am very worried about how I would do for the other main Papers. I have exams on 16,17,18,19 and I do not know how to prepare myself for them. Please give me some tips and suggestions on helping me do my best during those stressful days.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Prashik,

      We hope you have chosen all required subjects, as the minimum subjects is 5.

      Just sign up and follow us on weekly free tutorial, or sign up for our tutoring classes.

  6. Hey i got my igs in two weeks and im panicking i havent completed revision for any subject and i really want to get a few As iv talked to students who already did their ig and everyone says its easy but i dont see it that way..help please

    • Hi Shirley,

      In fact IGCSE is easy, provided that you have done all the necessary works and revisions. You can’t hope to get As when you haven’t fully equip or familiarise yourself to the exam.

  7. I am going to give my igcse exams in 15 days from now.
    I am done preparing for all the exams and solved previous 10 year past-papers, yet i still am not confident since i have a feeling that solving past-papers has indirectly made me mug up the answers so when i m solving a new paper, i become clueless!!
    Help pls!


    • Hi S.T

      Just relax. If you have done all necessary preparations, you are good to go. You are experiencing temporary “mind blank” due to your tension.

      In fact, you’re the first ever person we have seen here on IGCSE Centre that had done all 10 years past papers! Well done!

      Trust yourself. You can do it.

  8. Dear Sir/Madam ,
    I am really worried my exams in ( May /June Sitting 2014). I Have No Confident In My Chemistry Physics paper. My friends is looking down on me really making depressed .Hope You Can Read This Serious Matter And Reply Me As Quick As Possible . Thank You .


    • Hi Andrew,

      First of all, we would like to tell you to ignore all the naysayers. Just brush them off, and bring back your mind to your books. You must know that, these “friends” negative attitude won’t be able to do any harm on you, if you don’t allow it.

      For the subjects, you must concentrate on the topic that you are weak in. Find more exercises or past papers to drill on it. Until you understand the pattern of questions, and know exactly how to find the answer.

  9. I’ll be giving my IGCSEs in 2 months time and I’m freaking out! I can’t seem to concentrate or get my heart into studies at all! Anyone got ways of self-motivations to share? :/

    • Hi Mickey,

      The best way is, focus on which topic you’re weak in. Find someone to help you in that specific topic or you can always study and do the past year papers by yourself.

      As we always tell students here, you have to trust yourself that you can do it.

  10. hello im cyrus and im really too worry about my exam and I didnt study much and its just 2 months that I started to studying and I really need some help . How can I improve myself please answer me THANK YOU

    • Hi Cyrus,

      Preparing for an exam needs to be well planned, you simply can’t do it in last minutes.

      For now, you can just do your best. Study as much as you could for the moment.

      The best part of IGCSE is, you can always re-take the paper if your grade is not good.

    • Hi Saharose,

      Focusing is a training. You need to train your mind to bring back your focus each time you “catch” your mind wandering else where.

      Have trust in yourself that you can do it. Do not listen to naysayers that “scare” you. Brush them off, and put your mind to your books again.

  11. I’m really worried about what results i’ll get for my exams, for which i’ll be sitting in a months time ( May 2013, IGCSE ) I haven’t completed studying anything yet and i am not confident at all. My friends are all treating me bad, and since i’m a sensitive person i’m failing to concentrate on my studies. And I simply don’t understand why I have not got that mood to study. Please send me an immediate response about how I can focus on my work and score high grades for the examination I will be facing soon.

    Thank you

    • Hello Jerry,

      We have replied to your request by email. ‘See you’ over the email! 🙂

      Don’t worry, everything is solvable!

    • You’ll do just fine…. Have the hope friend, hope is always there just gotta go step forward and grab it tight in your arms. Best of wishes Jerry..:D

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