This exam requires so much memorization. You have already achieved so much, but there are likely still some lists, diagrams, and concepts that may seem daunting. So how does memorizing work? What can you do to improve it?

Basic Steps

Encoding

– This is what most students think of when they think of memorizing. It’s your bare bones first step. Complete flashcards and read the suggested material. You can use your learning style (see learning style post) to best attack this step.

Consolidation

– This is why many experts think that writing with a pencil is better than taking notes on a keyboard. You can’t get all of the information down during a session, you’re forced to take the first step in thinking about what is the most relevant.

– This is also the step where you’re putting together a bigger picture. Just knowing flash card answers leaves your mind too scattered (think unorganized laundry). When you start to categorize, build a system, and make connections between subjects (Dr. Cheatham often refers to it as building your “web”), you’re starting to put facts in drawers – making them easier to find.

– Sleep is critical!! Your brain will do all the work for you. Throughout the night it selects and stores the most important facts.

 Storage

– Short Term: The average human can hold around 7 items in their short-term memory bank. That’s why phone numbers are about that long!

– Long Term: Deep concepts and that web of knowledge are what will shift into long term. That’s what will make you an excellent dentist.

Retrieval

– Recognition: When you see a fact and you know you’ve seen it before. Think multiple choice question. This is an easier form of memory.

– Recall: This is what you should challenge yourself to do during studying; it’s the hardest. Think fill in the blank. You have to redraw that diagram, remember that list, know that fact without any training wheels. This is excellent during studying so the exam feels like a breeze. It will also help you avoid falling for distracting answers that “seem right.”

 

Memory is much more complex, but hopefully these tips can help you know what and how to challenge yourself when you’re going through the material. And B&B has your back the whole way! Keep up the great work!

Written by Dr. Kerri Lyons 

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