Before Class

Memory Strategies


¨      Write everything down.

¨      Use a planner.  Write down when assignments are due, test dates, etc.

¨      Create flash cards.  Put one fact or vocabulary word on each flash card.  To learn the information, start with one card.  Read the card out loud, then cover it up and repeat it.  When you have practiced it several times, do the same with the second card.  Now flip between the two cards, repeating the information aloud, or writing it down.  When you know both cards, add a third and repeat.

¨      Go through your flash cards every day, every chance you get.  Carry them with you so you can review whenever you have down time; ex. When waiting in line, or when stuck in traffic.

¨      Recite information out loud when you’re studying.  Write it as you’re saying it.  Using all your senses at once activates more areas of the brain.

¨      Write out steps to solving math problems.  Then each time you work that type of problem, read the steps out loud as you follow them.  Memorize these steps for tests.

¨      Use mnemonic devices to memorize steps to solving problems or lists of information.  Take the first letter of each word and try to arrange them into a word.  Or make up a sentence you can remember using these first letters.  For example, the spaces of a musical staff are F-A-C-E.  The lines are E-G-B-D-F; every good boy does fine.

¨      Don’t try to cram too much into a study session.  Take short breaks to move around.

¨      Make time to study every day.  You need the constant and frequent repetition.

¨      Add visual cues to all written information.  Highlight or underline with different colored pens. 

¨      Make a movie of the information in your mind.  Visualize the material.  Take mental pictures of your notes.

¨      Make a picture out of the information you’re studying.  Use circles, lines, and/or boxes to group information into categories and/or show the relationships between ideas.

¨      Write all the information you need to memorize on a piece of paper.  Read these to yourself several times.  The next day, reduce the size of your paper by half, and rewrite your notes. You will have to use abbreviations and leave unimportant words out to make it fit.  The next day, reduce the size of the paper by half again.  Now you will have to use a few key words to remind you of the whole sentence.  Continue to reduce the size of the paper.  By the time it is too small to write on, you will have memorized the material.

¨      Before an exam, make yourself visual reminders of information that must be memorized.  Make post-it notes containing key words and concepts and place them in highly visible places - - on your mirror, notebook, car dashboard, etc.



¨      Begin with an open mind.   The most important quality that will affect your success is your attitude.

¨      If you can achieve success in a “difficult” math course, your awareness of that success can inspire you to pursue challenging projects in the future without becoming demoralized.

¨      Recognize that you have control over how well you will do in the course.

¨      Decide now that you will make an honest effort to do well in the course.

¨      Decide now that you will work not merely to pass the course but to do much better than pass.

¨      Decide now that you will persist in working hard in the course until the end, regardless of any setbacks that might occur along the way.

¨      Make an exceptional effort from the beginning.  Be over dedicated for the first two or three weeks of the course.

¨      Select your teacher with care.  Ask for recommendations from your counselor or tutor.

¨      Buy the textbook early.  Get a head start by reading appropriate sections before the course starts.



¨      Feel free to ask questions in class.  Don’t put off questions until later.

¨      Attend all classes.  Missing even one class can put you behind in the course by at least two classes.

¨      Arrive on time or a little early, get out your notes and homework, and identify any questions you have for the instructor.

¨      Sit in the front and center of the class.

¨      Use one three-ring binder devoted exclusively to math.  Keep all your notes and tests in order.

¨      Take a complete set of notes.  Compare notes with another person in class to fill in any parts you missed.

¨      Take a tape recorder to class to tape the lecture in addition to taking notes in class.



¨      Plan your study schedule carefully.  Give yourself a number of hours to study math every day.

¨      Choose a time of day to study math when you are especially alert.

¨      Work with a tutor, the instructor, or a study buddy every day.

¨      Read your math notes on the same day that you wrote them.

¨      Read the textbook and understand the concepts before starting your homework.

¨      A math textbook needs to be read slowly.  You do not have to read the whole chapter at once.  Read through a section, and then go through the examples.  Rework the examples without looking at the solution.

¨      Avoid test anxiety with solid preparation.

¨      Begin to prepare at least a week before the test.

¨      Write a list of all the topics the test might cover.  List each kind of word problem separately on your topics list.

¨      Find specific problems for each topic on your list.  Work out problems one topic at a time, until you are completely confident you understand that topic.

¨      Make up practice tests that have the same form as the test you will take.

¨      Think of ways to distinguish each type of problem from any other.  Write a list of similarities and differences.  Check that you have accurately identified the correct method for solving each problem.

¨      Aim for getting 100% on the test.  Over learn the material.  You can’t study too much.