Aug. 21, 2021

How do I retain knowledge?

Will attending all lectures and taking notes carefully lead you to a good grade? The answer is “no.” A research study done by the National Training Laboratory revealed that most students only remember 5% of what they learn from lectures, 10% from reading materials, 20% from audio and visual resources, but 90% from teaching others.
Note cards

Given this variety in the rate of knowledge retention, you’ll need some simple strategies to boost your memory and get yourself well prepared for a test or exam.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Find a study buddy and teach each other while studying. Teaching what you’ve learned to your buddy is a great way to test your comprehension. You'll need to recall the material correctly and convey it to your buddy in a way that makes sense. When teaching, you’ll recognize anything you’re struggling with and have a chance to review it before the test. The Student Success Centre is home to the PASS program and Study Group Program if you’re trying to find groups of students who prefer to study together.
  • Apply what you’ve learned by practice. Test yourself with your own past papers, if possible. You’ll have a better grasp of course materials and find blind spots to work on. When past papers are not available, you can redo part of your previous assignments as those are designed to help you learn.
  • Join a study group to discuss and study together. Discussion is an active study method that helps you retain what you’ve studied. It's better to initiate a study group at the beginning of a course to study together throughout the entire semester, or at least have one during test preparation. Discussions can happen in-person or via a range of messaging tools such as iMessage or Whatsapp. But be cautious and avoid engaging in activities that can result in academic misconduct such as discussing test questions and sharing your answers with classmates. Consult our study group strategies page or check in with our academic integrity specialist if you have any questions regarding this.
  • Take care of your physical and mental health. When studying for a test, don’t forget to keep your regular exercise routine or at least engage in some light exercise such as taking a short walk. Exercise can refresh your brain and help with memorization. Don't forget to get some sleep. Your brain needs some rest after processing a lot of information. Don't hesitate to reach out to the Student Wellness Services if you feel anxious or stressed!

These strategies will help you retain and recall information, and help you develop your own learning style. There's no one size fits all method. Good luck!