In this chapter, you will learn surprisingly easy ways to increase memory. We will first learn the psychological basis for the technique.
Is There Any Limit to Your Memory
The following facts show that there is no apparent limit to the capabilities of memory. For all practical purposes, human memory seems to be infinite.
Many people have dreamt about friends and relatives whom they have not met for 20 or 30 years. In the dreams, the images are perfect with all colors and details. This shows that there is huge memory storage somewhere in the brain.
Hypnosis and memory
We seem to remember everything that we see, hear, or feel. For example, a person in an accident did not remember the car’s license plate number. But under hypnosis, he could tell the correct number. This shows that he indeed had the number stored somewhere in his brain.
Everyone has the experience of suddenly remembering some long-forgotten memory. For example, some very old incident or some friend.
A scientific experiment of connecting wires to a patient’s brain for memory recall
When scientists connect electrodes (wires) to certain parts of the brain, the patients re-experience certain events from their past. They experience those events as if the events were happening now. This is not just memory recall. This is like re-living the experience. In one experiment, these experiences were as old as 40 years. This shows that the information is stored somewhere in the brain.
Many people who were very close to death have this experience. They say that their whole life flashed before them. They mean entire, total life and everything in their lives. Even things that they had forgotten.
Photographic memory means people can, usually for a short time, remember exactly and perfectly, everything they see. This memory fades with time. It can be so accurate that a person can even remember 1,000 separate random dots on a paper. This shows that our short-term memory can be perfect.
Scientists now believe that most children have this ability when they are young. But we force them to concentrate too much on logic and language and mathematics and too little on imagination and other mental skills. And as a result, children lose this photographic memory.
Rajan Mahadevan: modern Indian famous for memory
Rajan Mahadevan set a new world record by memorizing 32,811 digits for the value of PI (a mathematical function) on 5th July 1981. Rajan is one of the world’s few people alive with such a memory. He again set a new world record in 1982 by memorizing 35,000 digits for the value of PI.
According to Rajan, he can remember numbers by associating them with real-life situations.
Though Rajan has a wonderful memory for numbers, he is less than average when it comes to remembering faces. He sometimes forgets where he put his keys.
Most famous memorizer: Russian “S”
The most famous memorizer was a Russian called “S”. His memory was so good that if you asked him what happened on a specific day 14 years ago, he would think for a moment and then ask “At what time?” This Russian “S” was studied for 30 years by the most famous Russian psychologist of that time. The psychologist found that “S” was just like any normal person but his memory was perfect. It was found that “S” had by chance discovered the basic “mnemonic technique” as a child and it became a natural part of his memorizing. (You will learn this technique in chapter 9.)
How to Memorize Better While You Learn
A list of words is given below. Read them once quickly and in order. You will not be able to remember all of them. That is okay.
- Rajiv Gandhi
- Sachin Tendulkar
After you read these words, cover them by hand and write them down from your memory in the space below.
The following graph shows how the memory functions during learning.
Memory recall during learning.
We remember better at the beginning and
at the end of a learning period.
In graphs, we assume 75% as the amount learned or remembered because most standard learning does not result in 100% understanding or memory.
Note that there are two peaks. These peaks correspond to words related to special interest or unique words for that reader. In this case, the words are “Rajiv Gandhi” and “Sachin Tendulkar”. The graph also shows that we remember well in the beginning. As time passes, the memory decreases. Surprisingly, people also remember well at the end of a learning session.
Our memory is better at the end also, because the brain/mind does not get additional information. So there is less competition for this information to be stored and organized in the brain.
In summary, we remember better at the beginning and the end of a learning period. We remember less during the middle of a learning period. There are occasional peaks corresponding to special items during learning. In the graphs that follow, we will not show the peaks to simplify the graphs.
The graph below shows how memory functions if you read for long periods.
This shows that if we want to maintain our ability to remember high enough, we should take a rest. For normal purposes, we should take a rest after 20 minutes to 40 minutes. The graph also shows its beneficial effect. It shows that if you have four learning periods in a 2-hour session, then there are 4 beginning and 4 ends which correspond to high learning and high memory. Since there are 4 learning periods, the middle drop will also be smaller than the drop for one 2-hour learning period without any rest.
Taking rest improves memory during learning.
In addition, you should do the 3 Minute Refreshing Technique (see Chapter 8) during this rest. This relaxation can remove tension in your mind and your muscles. Relaxation also results in increased blood flow to your brain and that means you function at higher intelligence.
Next, let us learn how memory/recall changes for hours and days after we have learned something.
How to Retain Better After You Learn Something
The graph shows how much we remember after we finish learning something in a class, lecture, article, book, or speech.
The graph begins at 75% because normal learning does not result in 100% understanding or 100% memory.
We may guess that we remember less and less as time passes. But there is a surprise. We remember better about 10 minutes after the learning finishes. The reason for this strange memory phenomenon is simple: at the moment the learning period finishes, the brain has not had enough time to organize and store the last items. It needs a few minutes to store, organize, and integrate the last items.
Memory after the learning period.
Without revision, we forget 82% within 24 hours.
The graph shows that memory decreases sharply after initial learning. We remember only 18% after 24 hours. We forget 82% of all that we learn within 24 hours!! This is a very important fact for you to remember. I will discuss below how you can prevent this loss by using the technique of systematic revision.
We remember well for a short time after learning something. This memory is called short-term memory.
Systematic Revision: Your Secret to Good Memory for Exam Success
I first became aware of the power of frequent revisions during higher secondary. I did not like studying Chemistry. Somehow, I do not know why I started revising the complete Chemistry book in three days. This revision continued for the last 3 months before the exam. When the results came I was happy that I got 68 marks out of a total of 70 in theory papers. That was the highest marks I got in any subject. This helped me get the 5th rank among 40,000 students in the exam.
The following graph shows how systematic revision can help you maintain a very high memory and recall of what you learn.
This graph is a result of research in psychology. It shows that you should revise shortly after the learning period (about 10 minutes after learning finishes). You should revise again in 24 hours. Then after 1 week. Then after 1 month and 6 months, etc. If you revise in this style, then your memory/recall remains very high for long periods.
What you remember for long periods is remembered in long-term memory.
Systematic Revision is an extremely powerful scientific technique for transferring information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Note that the Systematic Revision technique improves your learning, thinking, and remembering. This advantage is added up as you use this technique every day. The student who does not use the Systematic Revision technique is wasting the time he has already spent on learning something.
This technique will give you, the user of my techniques, a great advantage over the vast majority of students in any competition.
The Topper’s Daily Routine: The Easiest and Most Powerful Memory Technique
If you learn nothing else from this book, learn the Topper’s Daily Routine.
The Topper’s Daily Routine is scientific and you can begin benefiting from it starting today. This routine requires about 15 to 20 minutes per day for revising your classwork and this time is the most effectively used for memory and learning. It also suggests some physical exercise for 30 minutes.
As you learn other specific techniques from this book, this routine will become more and more effective. It will become more and more powerful.
The Topper’s Daily Routine is a systematic approach to studying daily, learning daily, and revising daily. I explain this routine in terms of what to do in the classroom and what to do at home, etc. Let’s learn the Topper’s Daily Routine in detail.
The scientific basis for the Topper’s Daily Routine
We have already learned in this chapter how revision improves recall. We saw a graph based on research in psychology that suggested revising at these times after learning: 10 min, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, …
The graph suggests that you revise two times in one day after you learn something. The Topper’s Daily Routine tells you to revise six times in one day whatever new you learn in the classroom. So you remember much better than shown in the graph.
I have designed the Topper’s Daily Routine so that it is easy to revise 6 times in a day what you learn in the class.
You may be wondering “How can I spend so much time revising?” I teach you three techniques to accomplish this. The first technique is reading faster. The second technique is that you revise quickly-spend just 5 seconds per page. And the third technique is to write notes in a special style that helps memory and quick revision-these notes are called “mind maps”. For more information on these, please see Chapters 1 and 7.
Quick revision in the class
You should revise the previous day’s work before the teacher teaches a class. In some schools and colleges, the students go to different rooms. In other schools and colleges, the students sit in one room.
If you are in the classroom before the teacher comes, then you can revise the previous day’s classwork.
If you have to go from room to room and you get slightly late, even then you can revise the previous day’s classwork. Some teachers take attendance and that is a good time to revise. If the teacher has started teaching, even then take one minute to revise the previous day’s classwork.
Then revise the new lesson when the class is over.
Quick revision at home
Daily revision. Revise the previous day’s classwork and self-study work after waking up or after morning exercise or after breakfast. Revise the previous day’s work again before going to school. Revise today’s work before going to sleep and again the next morning.
Weekly revision. Each Sunday, you should revise the whole week’s work two times. It could be any two times. One possibility is: in the morning and the evening. Any other time is also okay.
Monthly revision. Once a month, you should revise all that you have learned in that month. Since this revision will
take many hours, Sunday or another holiday is a good day for it. You may decide to revise monthly on the first or the last Sunday of the month.
Study and learn at home
We have discussed above “Quick revision at home”. That covers only fast revision. That does not include understanding or learning in detail what the teacher teaches or what you want to learn on your own.
You should learn, and understand new lessons or what the teacher teaches without being in a hurry. This kind of work also includes doing numerical problems as in Mathematics and writing and memorizing difficult things.
General at home
In addition to learning and revising at home, you should do some other activities that will indirectly increase your intelligence, and your mind power, improve your health, and help you achieve success.
Follow these activities. Do aerobic exercise for 30 minutes every day. Take vitamins and minerals. Sleep during the daytime also. Take practice tests. Do breathing exercises and use relaxation techniques regularly. These techniques are given in different chapters in this book.
General at school
You can do some things in your school that will help you get more marks and help you learn and improve. These are in addition to attending classes attentively and revising.
Tell your teacher that you are working hard. Tell him or her that you are aiming at rank. Your teachers want you to succeed. Once they know that you are working hard, they may also help you.
Request your teachers to check the answer books for your practice tests and suggest ways to improve.
You are not competing only against the students in your class. You are competing at the all-India level or all-State level. So help other students and get help from them.
During exams-days and in exam-room
During exam days you should sleep well. Do not study too hard. Do not become tired. If you become tired, you will not be able to do your best in the exam.
Do not eat just before going to an exam because it will lower your intelligence. (See chapter 10 for details.)
While in the exam room, use alpha-breathing and relaxation techniques to relax. Do not be in a hurry. Read the questions slowly. Think and plan your answer and only then begin to write answers to questions.
Whenever you read something, read fast. When you read newspapers or magazines, read much faster than when you read textbooks.
Whenever you take notes, use the “mind map” technique.
Take rest after half an hour of study. Do the 3 Minute Refreshing Technique during this rest. The process is taught in Chapter 8.
You Master a New Skill in Steps and Jumps
As you learn some new skills like riding a bicycle or spelling correctly or writing good essays, you master it in steps and jumps.
There is no improvement for some time (a few days in case of learning to ride a bicycle). Then suddenly, there is a large jump in learning. It shows that only after a certain amount of work or effort on your part, a jump in your learning can happen.
Again for some time, there is no learning and no improvement. Then after some time, again, there is a sudden jump in learning.
This shows that you do not accomplish similar amounts of learning every day even though you spend the same amount of time every day.
Even if your learning progress is slow, keep studying day after day without being discouraged. Finally, you will see a jump in your learning.
It happened to me in class IX. People from my place (Rajasthan) are not good at English. I also was weak in English. My teacher would make me stand up and ask questions about English grammar (“Direct-Indirect” and “Active-Passive”). And I would give wrong answers every day. This made me feel bad. I bought a book on English grammar and studied regularly. But there was no progress for a long time-till the half-yearly exams. Then suddenly, during a week or so, I understood it. I became the best in the class. I could answer any question the teacher asked on “Direct-Indirect” and “Active-Passive”.
Because I suffered so much to learn to speak English confidently, I don’t want others like me to suffer, and that we why we started www.1PageGrammar.com (visit to download a free guide).