Having good memory is something every student wants to have. Be it for acing the exams, competitions, or any other use for good memory, the single perk of having good memory is something that will give you a huge boost in academics. But how can you improve your memory for this use? Read on to find out.
Human beings generally tend to have good memory and really great memory retention as long as there is no brain damage and degradation of brain cells. However, there are distinct individuals who excel at the memory game, either through genetics or through various memory techniques they have learned as they grew older.
Having better memory than the average human being is something which could open up a whole array of doors for you in terms of academics. As a student, you could get better marks during exams and be able to cite the right answers when your teacher or professor calls you out. You would also have no problem recalling facts whenever you are in a debate which will help you gain the upper hand. In an academic standpoint, having better memory is just something that you cannot pass up.
One of the most well renowned techniques to improve memory is the memory palace. A technique used by human beings ever since the Roman empire was still around and standing tall. The memory palace technique utilizes the fact that human beings are generally better at recalling and remembering places which they are familiar with.
This technique exploits that feat by associating certain topics you need to memorize to the objects, characteristics, and distinctions found within that place. A memory palace is not only limited to just a palace but can also be your house, your best friend’s house, your favorite store, or the street you always take when walking home.
Have you ever seen the Sherlock Holmes series starring Benedict Cumberbatch? Cumberbatch’s character of Sherlock Holmes often utilizes the memory palace technique to store data and pieces of evidence within his mind to help solve the crime he is currently working on. And yes, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, which kind of weakens my point, but there are some real-life examples of people doing incredible feats of memory just by utilizing the memory palace technique.
For instance, Dominic O’Brien, the eight times World Memory Champion, has memorized a random sequence of 54 packs of 52 cards (for a grand total of 2808) after looking at each of the cards once. This happened on the month of May 2002 as he executed an entry to the Guinness Book of Records, with him only committing 8 mistakes the entire time, four of those errors were immediately corrected by him as soon as he was made aware of his errors.
Another outstanding feat of memory that was showcased to the world was by Ramón Campayo, who claimed to have learned the German language within 1 hour and 40 minutes. The story goes that as he was on a plane ride to the World Championship of Memorization in 2003, he thought it would be nice to give his speeches in the attendees’ native language, so he popped out a book and learned the German language within an hour and forty minutes.
Now that you are aware of the perks and feats of the memory palace technique (or some other variation derived from it), you might want to learn the technique yourself as well. We have listed the five most common steps to get you started on learning to utilize the memory palace technique.
The best way to start learning the memory palace technique is to choose the right “palace” for you. It can be any place as long as you are familiar with the place and remember the details vividly. You can start by choosing your own house, your favorite store, the street where your house is located or even the house of your grandparents if you like. Just choose one that you really know well so that you will not experience difficulties in the later steps.
This step is rather important as the place you choose will be the foundation of your memory palace, which you will decorate with topics and memories later on. If you fail to choose the place you are most familiar with, then odds are, that you will have difficulties with organizing the ideas and topics you will store in them and may even forget them later on. For a strong and effective memory palace, a strong and reliable foundation is needed to accomplish the task.
Don’t worry if you have a lot of places you are familiar with, as you can always have more than one memory palace for you to use. You can use different places to store a series of related topics and facts you will learn in the future.
The next step in the list you should do is to imprint your palace in your mind. Try to remember every last bit of detail in your palace as much as you can. This can prove to be useful later on in the list. You can do so by visualizing yourself walking around your chosen palace and trying to recreate the place inside your mind as best as you can. Try to mimic every detail of the original place you have chosen as best as you can in your mind to make for a more accurate palace.
By imprinting your palace in your mind, you limit the chances of you forgetting the foundation of your memory palace. This step should not be that difficult as we are often good at remembering places we are familiar with, a psychological evolutionary trait to help our ancestors navigate their way better to improve their chances of survival.
After you have pondered on what place best suits your need to build a memory palace, you can then proceed to list down distinctive features of the said place. You can start by the color of the walls, the indoor plants kept at the corner, the sofa that you always sit on, or the rack of snacks you always visit. Any detail can help you set up for the later step in this list as long as it is a part of the place you remember well.
The next step will be deciding point of your memory palace. Do this step well and you can expect to see good results and an improvement in your memory and memory retention, but fail to execute this step correctly and you will be left more confused than before you started making your own memory palace.
To do this step, you need to learn how to associate your newly learned knowledge with the things or distinctive features in your memory palace. For instance, you have learned that glass is made up of naturally abundant materials such as sand and limestone which is heated at really high temperatures to allow the crystalline lattices of the materials to become more uniform.
You just so happened to have a picture frame of the beach pasted in the wall of your palace (which is really convenient) so you associate the glass keeping the photo from falling off of the frame with the sand in the photo and voila! You have successfully associated that the glass in your picture frame came from the sand found in the photo inside of the frame.
This step does need a bit of getting used to but once you start to get the feel of it you can associate most of the knowledge you learned and want to store in your memory palace to just about anything in your place. Be it mathematical sequences, history dates, or just some random facts you read across from the internet which you found interesting, you can store them all in your memory palace, given that you have associated them with the distinctive features of your palace.
The last step on creating your own memory palace is to recall the pieces of information you have stored in your memory palace by visualizing yourself going around your palace. Whenever you encounter something distinct in your palace you should start to remember what you stored in that object or characteristics. The piece of information you retrieve can either be complete or just a fragment of what you stored.
It is all right if you only remember a fragment of what you stored in that object or distinct characteristic, as long as you have retained memory of what you stored there. This will exercise your brain to get used to the memory palace technique and help you gain a better sense of what topics you failed to associate properly.
If you are missing a few information you stored or have trouble recalling them while using your memory palace, then you can try to associate them with the objects in your palace better or you can move them to other palaces which will give you better objects to associate the to.
Do this repeatedly until you have fully mastered the art of the memory palace and you will surely see a significant improvement on your memory and memory retention.
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And who knows? With your newly learned memory palace technique and a home tutor to constantly supplement your mind palace with new knowledge, you just might become one of the best in your class.
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