Memory & Review

We forget about 50% of new material within 24 hours. The figure below illustrates how quickly we forget the majority of new material encountered. 

The forgetting curve graph: %of info retained over time showing you forget 50% of what you learn in 24 hours.


So how can you remember?
Below, you will find strategies for increasing memory retention, and being prepared for that exam without last minute cramming!

Ways of Remembering

The following are a few strategies that can help you retain and remember information as you learn it.

Memory Techniques

  • Study from the general to the specific
  • Find something in the material that is meaningful to you
  • Create associations with other more familiar things
  • Learn actively: recite, write, discuss, manipulate
  • Use your imagination to visualize relationships, make vivid pictures, turn abstract ideas into concrete situations, details
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Overlearn
  • Distribute practice
  • Remember something else on the same subject
  • Combine memory techniques
  • Use mnemonic devices: acronyms, rhymes and songs

Basic Principles of Review

Immediate Review

  • Rework your notes—adding material that comes to mind. (Reworking is not recopying; to learn how to take and rework notes for efficient learning, make an appointment with an Learning Specialist)
  • Organize class and reading notes using asterisks, arrows, additional comments, etc.
  • Integrate new material with what you already know.

Intermediate Review

  • Review recent notes for each subject at least twice per week (15-20 minutes per review session).
  • Review all notes relevant to the next major assignment or test once a week; determine how new material relates to previously covered topics.

Final Review

  • Start early (at least one week prior to an exam).
  • Assemble all study materials: textbooks, articles, lecture notes, reading notes, handouts, previous assignments, graded tests, practice tests/review sheets, any study aids made earlier in the term.
  • Practice applying knowledge: try to predict test questions and then answer them. Practice what you will be asked to demonstrate on the test: create essay outlines, write essays, and work problems.
  • Take timed practice tests.
  • Stick to a regular schedule. Avoid excess caffeine/other stimulants. A stressed body leads to a stressed mind.


Being prepared is the best way to prevent test-related anxiety. If you are still feeling anxious, seek additional resources: CAPS, advisor, professor, or the ARC.