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Ten Principles of Memory

  1. Pay attention while you're learning.
  2. Get the information right the first time. False ideas and misunderstood facts can hang on as information you learn correctly.
  3. Be sure you fully understand the material. (A good test: Can you explain it to someone else so he or she will understand it?).
  4. Try to see the significance of what you're learning. See how what you're learning is part of a larger whole.
  5. Involve your ego, if possible. See how the task relates to you. Does the material please or displease you? Is it important to your self-concept that you know the material?
  6. Associate new material with related facts you already know. (Even when new material seems to disagree with previous learning, you have a valuable handle for recalling it later.)
  7. Organize the material so you can file it in its proper place in your memory. If you have organized carefully, remembering part of something will enable you to remember the rest.
  8. If there is a basis for doing so, divide and group your material. Information is best taken in as "little bunches."
  9. Reinforce what you have learned through repetition and usage. You will not remember something you don't use.
  10. Recite often. In a research study by Dr. A. I. Gates, students were divided into different groups. One group used 100% of its time in reading an article over and over again, while another group spent 80% of its time reading and 20% reciting the same article. Other groups read and recited in different proportions. The final group spent only 20% of its time reading and 80% in reciting, and this group clearly emerged with the highest score.

A portion of the above information was adapted from Walter Pauk's How to Study in College, Fifth Ed.