Memorize a lesson or article with Mind Mapping, and other tips.
Mind mapping is a method that can improve your ability to memorize lessons or articles. I tried this method when memorizing a Wikipedia article on water treatment. I was able to learn the main ideas in this lesson faster and remembered it longer. Here is how to proceed.
Write down the main title in the middle
Write down a short title summarizing the subject on the middle of a page. For example "water treatment".
Group ideas, link them to the main titleGroup the ideas
contained in the article or lesson. For example, if the lesson is about water treatment, groups can be:
Choose short titles
- Beneficiaries of water treatment.
- Water treatment methods.
- What do we treat (viruses, bacteria,...).
for these groups, and small symbols
representing them. Symbols will help you using your visual memory:
- For beneficiaries, I chose the title “for whom” and the simplified drawing of a person as symbol.
- For methods, I chose the title “methods” and the simplified drawing of a tool as symbol.
- For what we treat, I chose the title “what” and an interrogation mark as symbol.
The symbol does not need to be a work of art. It also does not need to resemble perfectly the item to learn. The purpose here is to make you remember this item by evoking it with a small drawing.
Write down these groups’ title around the main title, drawing a line between the main title and each group title
Here is what I drew:
Draw subgroups and individual items, link them to main groups
Around each group title, draw subgroups related to this group, or items belonging to this group.For example, for water treatment:
- if the group is “treatment methods”, subgroups can be 'biological” and “chemical”.
- items belonging to the group “methods” can be “sedimentation”, ”filtration”, sedimentation”,...
Here is what I drew for the group“treatment methods”:
Here is the final drawing:
Learn by vizualising what you draw
In order to learn the structure you draw:
- Have a close look at this structure. Start from the middle, having a look at main groups and their symbols. Then for each group, carefully scan the related subgroups and items with their symbols.
- Visualize in your mind what you draw (without looking at your drawing). Start from the middle, then visualize the main groups, then the subgroups. Each time visualize the associated picture, the link between groups, the position of the group on the page (for example "biological methods" are on the top right-hand side of the page). Try closing your eyes when doing this, and check if it helps you.
- Repeat until you remember the full structure.
Get the basics right: sleep, sport, healthy food.
Remembering the lesson or article is one thing. You will also need enough energy to learn day after day, and fight your way through hours long, sometimes days long exams or meetings. To keep a high level of energy, the basics are:
- regular physical training
- healthy food. By healthy food I mean: drink enough water, vegetables, fruits, and limit added sugar (sodas, cakes, ... )
- enough sleep
Regarding sports, you can argue that physical training takes time. Time to study is important, but energy is paramount. So you need to balance both. During a challenging four hours long exam, where you need to not only remember your lessons but to answer difficult questions, your brains need to be alert.
To focus is essential when memorizing. Best pupils are so focused during classes that they already know the lessons going out of the class.
If you do not focus enough, you will have more work to do to memorize the lesson. Focusing is also beneficial during the exam itself. It helps you stay calm, avoid mistakes and understand the questions well. Same at work, by not focusing during meetings or when someone is giving you information, you will lose time (and other people's’ time) recovering and then memorizing the information.
Try, during most of the day, to pay attention to what is happening around you, right here and right now. Practicing this often, it will be easier to do the same when memorizing and when having to remember what you learned. You can also test your attention using these exercises:
Another way to be more focused is to choose subjects or studies based on what you are passionate about. In that case, maximum attention to what you learn will just be automatic.
Use the memory palace method to learn a succession of items in the right order.
Mind mapping is adapted to the memorization of lessons or articles, while the memory palace method helps you learning an ordered list of items or a speech.
When you have several lessons or articles to study, learning a succession of items in the right order is not adapted because you will have to answer random questions at exams or at work about any part of what you learned.
When you need to rehearse a speech, you do have to remember the elements of the speech in the right order.Here are exercises to train the memory palace method, together with explanations on how to proceed:
Now just try the mind mapping method.
Memorize the drawing I presented in this lesson. Try to answer the following questions:
- When treating water, what kind of elements you try to eliminate?
- Foculation is part of which group of treatment technique?
- Active carbon is part of which group of treatment technique?
- List all methods that can be used to treat water