Have you ever had that moment in an exam, when you can’t remember the one key detail of your answer? The rest of your explanation is perfect and you know that if you can just remember that one missing name or phrase you’ll get full marks for it. You search your brain for any clue, becoming more and more frustrated because you know this, you studied this. You can even recall the page in your notes where it’s written. But it simply will not come back to you.
The easiest way to overcome this problem, that I would think many people suffer from, is to create a link.
There are a variety of linking methods you can use, but here are some of my favourites:
- Using images – For a lot of people pictures or photos are easier to recall that words. So if studying a complex process, draw a diagram; if you have to be able to describe an object, find a photo showing all of its characteristics; or if it can’t be summed up in any other way, picture a funny cartoon to depict the main points of a concept. For example, for an exam a few years back, I had to remember the Panspermia theory and it just would not stick in my mind. So I pictured a cartoon of a little green glob with eyes and a mouth screaming as it plummeted to Earth, stuck to a meteorite! May sound silly, but it worked.
- Mnemonic link system – This method consists of imaging a story that includes all of the elements of the list you are trying to memorize. In theory the story is easier to remember than the list because the story establishes a link between each component of said list.
- Any other link that works for you – In some cases there is simply no way to create a logical link to the thing you are trying to learn, so my advice would be to come up with whatever little quirk helps you to fix it in your head. A few weeks ago I had a botanic exam, where I had to be able to recall plant names and characteristics. Here’s an example of one of the random links I made; I needed to relate the name “Verónica Persica” to the number 2 ….
Verónica Persica–> The Veronicas–> 2 Veronicas –> 2
In my opinion, linking can really help to recall important information and might just spare you that frustrating moment of going blank in an exam.