Tips to help you remember
Q I can’t memorise anything. As a result, my scores in subjects such as chemistry are getting worse. Can you tell me how to improve my ability to mug up?
Memory is a very important function of our brain; it allows us to recall information at appropriate moments. As a student, memory becomes extremely important as learning, memorising and recalling are important requirements when you are being assessed during examinations. There are several simple ways you can adopt to improve your memory:
Study in a room where there is either steady ambient sound or none at all. A quiet room allows you to focus and pay more attention to what you are studying. However, some people focus better if there is relaxing music playing in the background. If you are one of those, go ahead and play the music of your choice while you study, Just make sure the music doesn’t become a distraction. If you are in a place where you cannot control the noise level around you, for example in a hostel, then you could consider investing in ear phones to block out the noise.
Study consistently and regularly instead of trying to cram everything in short bursts. Regular study allows your brain to rest between sessions and gradually create the neural networks in the brain which will help you absorb information. Cramming the night before is a sure-fire way of the information eventually slipping out of your memory.
The brain collects information in clusters. So if you group similar pieces of information together, you are more likely to remember. Chunking or clustering is also the reason why making notes, flow charts and using flashcards help you to remember better.
Study the same information in different formats. Buying subject books prescribed for different boards and reading them can really help as it gives you an opportunity to study very similar information presented in different ways.
Memorising requires rehearsal and can be improved by the use of mnemonic techniques. If you are memorising the periodic table for example, try and make a story out of it or a little game. Plus, write the required information on post-it notes and stick them around your room or in your cupboard where you will see them multiple times every day.
Associating a term or a symbol with fun meanings can help make learning fun and easier. For every alphabet you are trying to remember, think of a word that starts with those alphabets. Then make a story using those words. Remembering a story is much easier that remembering the extremely dry periodic table.
Too early to start
Q My son is a student of Class V and is doing very well in science and maths. Should I enrol him in JEE preparation classes? Some of his friends are already attending these. At what stage should I send him for these classes? They say it is better to begin early.
Your son will be appearing for JEE, if at all, only after seven years. You cannot take it for granted that he will be taking the JEE without knowing your son’s interests and abilities, what the pattern of exam will be and whether engineering will be a career in demand 10 years from now.
I appreciate your sentiment of preparing your child for an academically bright future but there are multiple ways of providing enrichment to your child for his mental and emotional development.
Enrichment at his age needs to be provided across different domains. Helping your son do different projects in topics such as maths, social science and language will help him learn how to apply knowledge to real-life situations.
If the school is not doing enough project-based learning then you could go online and print out some age-appropriate projects for him. Doing even one simple project once a month can instil the excitement of learning in the child.
Encouraging him to join music and dance classes will help him develop communication and develop his creativity. Reading different books and magazines is another simple way of teaching how to learn, research and manage time.
I would encourage you to use all these methods to ensure the emotional and mental development of your son. Preparing for JEE can begin after Class X, when he will have a better idea about what he wants to do in life and where his strengths lie. All the best!