One of the best ways to remember what you study is to understand it. There are two distinct parts of your study portion. Even in life you will come across these two kinds of information and concepts. One is what you have to understand. This could be a process or a definition or a formula. The other is what you need to memorize. This includes names, dates, and formulae.
How do we Understand and Remember
There are some techniques you can use to understand. These technique are not necessarily independent of each other and you can use them simultaneously while studying for any kind of exam.
We talked of cognitive load earlier and we will repeat here that if the information is presented in an easily understandable manner that will definitely help a learner to understand and remember a concept better.
A teacher can use the ADEPT method to explain difficult topics and if students don’t have teachers willing to make life easy for them then they should use this method to for better understanding. In fact, this methodology is designed for learning.
Forgetting Curve and Repetition
Once more let me remind you of something we touched upon in a previous blog that repetition is very important to remember things. That is because we tend to forget things after a while. No matter how much you are interested in something you will not remember everything you study. Dr ebinghaus has captured some data regarding memory and forgetting and put it down in his forgetting curve.
Starting off with ADEPT
Adept is an acronym for Analogy, Drawing, Example, Plain language and Technical definition.
Analogy is to draw likeness to what you are explaining. Teachers need to do this when they are teaching and students need to do this while revising. For example learning to swim is like learning to ride a bicycle or learning English is like learning a skill – it needs practice.
Example means you compare the explanation with the simplest and real life example that you can. Like Pythagoras theorem can be used for many real life applications for example calculating the angle of the roof given the height and width of the house.
When learning try to break down the concept to the simplest words possible. Like Einstein said If you can explain it to someone then it means you have understood it. This is also the something Richard Feynman used to remember concepts. It is also called the Feynman technique. Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize winning Physicist, also known to his friends and fans as the ‘Great Explainer’, used to keep a book where he used to add concepts he did not understand. He kept adding more information about the concept till he understood it. Ultimately he used to break it down and explain the concept to his students so that they would understand it easily. That way he too remembered the concept well. When two great scientists ask you to understand and explain a concept then I believe you should take the advice.
The explaining method is so popular that it had another name. The protege effect.
You should also make sense of the technical definition or make one of your own to remember the concept. Once you can break down a concept to its simplest form then try to make your own Technical definition for it. You can use jargon and it means you have understood the idea thoroughly.
When trying to understand concepts mind mapping can be really helpful. Remember Feynman’s book? Mind mapping is something like that. You write down the name of the concept you want to learn and understand in the middle of a page. Once you’ve done that you start adding information to it spider web style. You do not have to use only words. You are allowed to use pictures or draw stuff when needed. Every time you believe you can break down the idea further draw another bubble for it. Ultimately, all the information you can accumulate about a concept or idea should be on one page, but broken down in cloud formation format so you can see it at one glance.