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College students are confronted with two types of memory. The first and more common is general memory, or remembering the idea without using the exact words of the book or professor. General memory is called for in all subjects, however, the arts, social sciences, and literature probably make the greatest use of this particular kind of remembering.

The other type of memory is the verbatim memorization of words by which something is expressed. This type of memorization may be called for in all subjects but especially in law, theatre, science, engineering, mathematics, and foreign language where the exact wording of formulas, rules, norms, laws, scripts, or vocabulary must be remembered.

Below are some tips on how to remember things effectively:

  • Thoroughly understand what needs to be remembered and memorized. When something is understood, be it a name or a chemical chain, it is almost completely learned – anything thoroughly understood is well on the way toward being memorized.
  • Spot what needs to be memorized verbatim. It is a good plan to use a special marking symbol in text and your notebook to indicate parts and passages, rules, data, and all other elements that need to be memorized instead of just understood and remembered.
  • If verbatim memory is required, go over the material or try to repeat it at odd times, such as while driving back and forth from class.
  • Think about what you are trying to learn. Finding an interest in the material helps to more easily memorize it.
  • Study the items you want to remember longest first.
  • Learn complete units of information at one time, not in parts, as that is the way they will need to be recalled.
  • Overlearn to make certain that you remember it.
  • Analyze material and strive to intensify the impressions the material makes.
  • Fix concrete imagery whenever possible. Close your eyes and get a picture of the explanation and summary answer. Try to see it on the page. See the key words underlined.
  • Make your own applications, examples, and illustrations.
  • Reduce the material and fit it into your own system of memorization.
  • Represent ideas graphically by use of pictorial or diagrammatic forms.
  • Make a list of key words that are most useful in explaining the idea or content of the lesson.
  • Form a variety of associations among the points you wish to remember. The richer the associations, the better the memory.
  • Try making the idea clear to a friend without referring to your book or notes.
  • Write out examination questions on the material that you think you might get at the end of the semester. Then, write answers to your own questions. Since you now have the chance, consult the text or your notes to improve your answers.
  • Follow suggestions for reviewing. This is an important part of remembering.