5 Ways to Improve your Memorization Skills before Your Next Exam

When one of my favorite college bloggers Samantha from As Life Grows asked me if she could write a guest post for the blog, I was really excited. Not only is Samantha’s content always on point, but she’s also an inspiration of mine! With midterms coming up, you probably have a lot of exams coming your way. Samantha is here to make sure you’re ready! Want to guest post too? Make sure to email me at hello@awanderersadventures.com! So without further adieu, enjoy the post!

Have an exam soon? Click through to discover 5 ways to improve your memorization skills before your next exam!
One thing that every student has to do in college is memorizing. Lucky for some, this comes really easy to them. For others, however, memorization is tough. They struggle to learn new material and actually keep it in their heads. They spend hours studying their notes and still don’t see the results that they hoped for. If this sounds like something you struggle with, then I encourage you to dive right into learning from this post! In this post, I am going to be sharing with you five ways that you can improve your memorization skills before your next test

1. Start Preparing Early

The first thing that you need to do in order to memorize more effectively is to start preparing early. For your difficult test, I recommend beginning your study plan at least a week in advance. For easier tests, I would suggest three days in advance. What I like to do for my more difficult classes is to read through my notes, highlight important information, and create notecards after each class period. Making your study material after each class will help you to keep things fresh instead of forgetting them as soon as class is over. Having a studying plan like this will also help you to avoid procrastination, last-minute studying, and cramming!

Related: How to Study for a College Exam

2. Create Notecards

As I mentioned above, I like to create notecards in order to study for my exams. I have found that this is one of the most effective ways for me to memorize material, and I encourage every student to try it. Making notecards allows you to create question/answer formats similar to the exam, memorize smaller pieces of information that are much easier to digest, and test yourself (without cheating).

I would suggest that you use Quizlet to create your notecards because it allows you to take them anywhere by simply downloading the Quizlet app on your phone. Quizlet also makes it easy for you to share your notecards with others. Once you’ve studied all of your notecards, you can either study in a group or use Quizlet’s test function to see how well you know the material.

3. Memorize things in small chunks

The next thing that you need to do in order to memorize more effectively is to start memorizing things in smaller chunks. Say goodbye to cramming, my friend, because it is not effective! Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable tasks will help you absorb so much more information.

I like to do this by dividing the number of notecards I have by how many days I have until the test. Normally, this is around five days before my exam. I will then study that number of new notecards each day until the day before the test. I will also review the notecards that I have previously studied each day.

Memorizing things in smaller chunks helps you to avoid getting overwhelmed with so much material. Reviewing previously learned notecards helps me to continue learning new information without forgetting what I have already memorized. The key with this technique is repetition. I firmly believe that the more you see something, the more you will remember it.

4. Use key phrases, words, or letters

Another thing that helps me to memorize more effectively is using little tricks like key phrases, words or letters to help me more easily recall the information. When you make your notecards, it is important to not write an overwhelming amount of information on each card. By keeping things to a minimum, you will be able to more easily remember what is on each card and can then pull out the most important concepts or key phrases more quickly. Sometimes a short phrase is all you need to help you memorize important concepts.

Another trick that you can use in order to memorize more effectively is to look for words that give away the meaning or term. Sometimes there are one or two words in a definition that give great hints about the answer! 

Memorizing a large list of words can often be difficult as well. In these situations, I like to come up with some sort of jingle, acronym, or acrostic to help me remember the material.

Here is an example:

For my recent zoology test, I had to memorize the taxonomic rank. These are

Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

As you can see, keeping that long list straight in my head could prove difficult. So, to help myself out, I used the mnemonic device Dear King Phillip Came Over From Great Spain. This silly little phrase helped me to make sure that I kept all eight of these in the right order! So next time you have a long list that you are struggling to memorize, try coming up with a little phrase to help you!

5. Repeat Repeat Repeat

As I mentioned above, repetition is one of the most useful things that you can do in order to improve your memorization. As you begin learning the material for your next exam, remember to start studying at least a week in advance. This will give you plenty of time to go over your notes so that you can keep everything fresh and repeat it multiple times. I would suggest that you make notecards on Quizlet and download the app for on the go studying!

I hope that you have been able to learn from these five ways to improve your memorization skills before your next exam. These are all things that have helped me to make great grades in college, and I know that they can help you too! If you have any questions, be sure to drop them in the comments below! You can also take a look at my free 7-day guide to improving your studying for more helpful studying advice! 

About the author:



Samantha is the founder of AsLifeGrows.com, where she teaches students just like you everything they need to know to have a successful college experience. Through her posts, weekly newsletter, and e-courses, she has helped thousands of students become more successful in college. During the past few years, she has been able to earn a 3.8 GPA, has a great college career, and even get into three physical therapy graduate programs (all without getting gray hairs!) Now, she is here to teach you how you can reach your own level of success!

  • This is so helpful. Thank you very much!!

    Chronicles by RJ – www. chroniclesbyrj.blogspot.com

    • I’m so glad you found it to be helpful, RJ!

  • In graduate school, I didn’t feel like making literally a million flash cards, so I re-wrote my notes multiple times and would re-read them every day after each lesson, slowing having more and more notes to re-read as I went. And because I was in anatomy, I also made pictures to go with each system/organ/etc. This helped so much! Repetition and starting early is key and keeps everything manageable. Great tips!

    | diaryofasouthernmillennial.com

    • Repetition is definitely key! And making pictures is such a great idea! I’m a visual person so that helps a lot.

  • Awesome tips! so happy I dont have to take exams any more but notecards were so helpful!

    • You’re so lucky you don’t have to take exams anymore! haha

  • These tips are great! I remember making online flashcards through the website Study Blue. That helped me in college tremendously!
    Katie | Millennial on the Move

    • Oooh I’ve never heard of that website. I’m definitely going to check it out!

  • I’m starting to push myself to study earlier; it’s definitely way more efficient than cramming the night before. And your repetition tip is SO useful; people underestimate how useful constantly drilling terms over and over can be.

    • Starting earlier makes SUCH a difference! It’s a lot less stressful. And repetition is definitely key!

      • Priyanka Murmu

        Yea,my problems are also solved.Thanks to the Author.^_^

  • Macarena Ferreira

    I’m so happy I don’t have a take any more exams! I hated studying, eek.

    xo // http://www.thematerialgirl.co