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Total Recall: Remember More from your Study Sessions

Human brain illustration

We all know that cramming isn't the most effective way of studying. The stress leading up to exams impacts how you store and recall information, meaning that you may remember words and phrases, but probably haven't forged the connections between different pieces of information and how they tie in together.

To give yourself the best chance of remembering details of cases in the exam, start now, before you're stressed and while you have time to form the requisite pathways in your brain.

This is a technique I learnt from a friend, which can be used to improve memory and retention when studying. This approach works best as a prompt for memory as you progress through the semester and means that (hopefully) by exam time you have saved most of the information you need in your long term memory and just need to recall and apply it.

The Technique


First, you must always read the information and identify the key points, such as the ratio of the case or elements of an offence.


Then write your notes out by hand. The act of writing will help you to store the information in your long-term memory. Don’t write down all the information in the reading, just the main ideas. You want to focus your efforts on keeping the detail in your memory and teaching yourself how to recover the information, as opposed to writing down everything in sight and trying to learn from a lengthy set of notes.


Instead of just leaving your notes written on paper and that being the end of it, the next step is to type or dictate your notes. This accesses a different area of the brain to what you used previously, which gives you a better chance to remember the information. If you don’t mind sounding a little silly it’s always good fun to dictate to your computer and I find hearing the notes out loud really helps to cement my understanding.

Print on coloured paper

Once you have typed or dictated the notes in detail and standard you are happy with you need to print them out. However do not go for the plain white paper, you need coloured paper. The key with this is the colour helps us to remember the information by altering how the brain sees the image.

Colour coding

I also like to use the same coloured highlighter for each subject and link this to the coloured paper you print on, for example, pink for equity, yellow for trusts and so on. This way when you're in the exam your brain will remember the colour pink and can scan through the pink sections it has seen for the text you are looking for. You can also make your own colour coding system for different topics, particular weeks or classes, whatever works for you!


Now you read the information on the coloured paper, hopefully storing it for recollection later. Easy!

Smell good

I always wear the same perfume when I study and when I sit exams. This is based on the Context-Dependent Learning method. I believe the scent helps me recall the information I studied by replicating the environment I initially learnt it in. Plus it never hurts to smell nice while cooped up studying all weekend!

By taking all these steps you given yourself a better chance of putting the information into your long-term memory and made it easier to access come exam time without much time or effort.

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