The main reason we forget something is because we never really learned it in the first place.


A good memory is something we must work towards.  Things are forgotten because they never really made a strong impression on us in the first place.  The reasons for this lack of impression are as varied as from one person to the next.  Nevertheless, the most common reasons are:

  • you are thinking about something else – you are not listening;

  • you do not think the idea was important;

  • you do not take or have the time to learn or store the material properly.

To remember information, you need to know that your memory operates on four levels of efficiency.  Your ability to remember something increases from level 1 to level 4 depending on what you do with the information.

  • Level 1: Hear or read the material once (not reliable for a test).

  • Level 2: Read the information and review it once or twice (this is cramming – you will forget most of what you have read).

  • Level 3: Read the information, review the material several times, write it down, and test yourself over the next two days (expect fairly good recall).

  • Level 4: Repeat and frequently write down the information over a period of 3-6 days (gives you excellent retention).

If you do not review what you have learned, you will forget 70% within an hour and 84% within 48 hours.  One of the best forms of review is teaching or telling someone else about the information using your own words.  This is where study groups become invaluable.

Learning Styles

People learn and memorize information using a variety of "learning styles."  Learning styles are how you concentrate, process and remember new and difficult information.  You may remember information more easily through any combination of the following styles:

  • hearing

  • seeing

  • reading

  • writing

  • illustration

  • first hand experience

Be aware of your best styles.  Most information presented to you in college is by lecture.  Reading textbooks and other related material, as well as doing all the assignments are the other parts of the learning equation.  It is beneficial for you to combine learning styles to be successful.

When you are studying:

  • Say the information;

  • Write it down;

  • Read it over and over;

  • Put it into a form or format that will make sense to you;

  • Draw a diagram;

  • Relate the information to what you already know;

  • Picture and try to experience what you are learning;

  • Teach the information to someone else.