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Think about it: when was the last time you had to remember something complex? Or even something as simple as a phone number?
Our transformation into a digital society has drastically reduced the need for memorization. Everything we need to remember is just a click or two away.
But when it comes to the GMAT, your capacity to absorb and recall problem-solving techniques, and basic math/verbal concepts can make or break your score.
We’re not saying that rote memorization is the key to good GMAT prep—but certain memory-boosting techniques will be very helpful for increasing your speed and accuracy on test day.
Incorporate these 3 retention strategies into your GMAT prep routine to remember more of what you study, and recall information faster.
1. Use mnemonics to remember steps & rules
Remember the old BEDMAS rule for order of operations in basic algebra? This is a classic example of a mnemonic that helps students quickly recall a set of steps or procedures. In this case, BEDMAS refers to:
B – Brackets
E – Exponents
D – Division
M – Multiplication
A – Addition
S – Subtraction
Remember the word BEDMAS, and you’ll quickly recall which calculations to tackle first.
Mnemonics are also helpful for remembering fundamental verbal concepts, like the parts of speech. Many students use PAPA VINC to quickly list those eight components:
P – Pronouns
A – Adjectives
P – Prepositions
A – Adverbs
V – Verbs
I – Interjections
N – Nouns
C – Conjunctions
Can’t find an existing mnemonic for the GMAT concept you’re struggling to remember? Make up your own! As long as the term or phrase is something you can easily recall, it will work.
2. Stick to a regular GMAT prep schedule
Ever tried cramming for an exam just a day or two before test day? You probably absorbed a lot of information during those few, very long study sessions—and then promptly forgot almost all of it right after the exam.
The reason we forget information after cramming is because the material never makes it into our long term memory. We hold onto it just long enough to do a “brain dump” at the exam, and then it’s gone forever.
This is why cramming doesn’t work for GMAT prep. It takes months to study for this exam, and a high score depends on truly understanding and retaining what you’ve painstakingly practiced.
If you find yourself forgetting what you studied last week, it’s probably because you let too many days go by before hitting the books again.
Routine and repetition are definitely key to fully absorbing and remembering challenging material. So don’t relegate GMAT prep to marathon study sessions on the weekends! Spread out your practice throughout the week, divided into shorter periods of study and review.
This way, the new information you’re learning will have the chance to take root in your long term memory—and will be available for recall during mock exams, and on test day.
3. Can’t remember it? Try teaching it…
Having trouble remembering a difficult piece of theory, or set of problem-solving steps? Chances are, you don’t fully understand the concept or technique. One of the best ways to test your level of comprehension, and your memory, is to try teaching the concept to someone else.
Teaching requires detailed explanation, repetition, and demonstration. In order to help your friend or family member understand the material, you’ll need to break it down, work through an example or two, and thoroughly answer their questions.
If you can’t explain it, you don’t really know it. It’s very difficult for students to remember and apply what they don’t truly understand.
On the other hand, if you’re able to successfully teach your tough concept to someone else, the process of explaining and demonstrating will help it take root in your long term memory.
The strategy “teach it to remember it” is widely considered a smart retention tool for students. This is an ideal technique to incorporate into your GMAT study routine, particularly if you suspect your memory problem is really a comprehension issue.
Looking for more ways to strengthen your GMAT prep strategy? Taking the GMAT in Toronto and searching for study tips, free resources, or prep courses?