It’s almost exam time and you may be aware that there’s a change in exams this time around – you can now bring a memory aid into selected exams.
But what is a memory aid and how do you make the most of this opportunity? We’re glad you asked. We have here a little guide to creating a memory aid that’s going to help you do the best in your exam as possible. Of course memory aids don’t replace study techniques so check out Revision Strategies but it can certainly enhance your chances of exam success – so don’t let this little gift go begging.
Firstly, you will need to check your exam timetable to see if you can bring a memory aid into your exam. Not all courses will allow memory aids into the formal exam and they will only be permitted in formal examination- not in class assessments. If your exam does allow a memory aid then it’s important to understand what a memory aid is.
A memory aid is 1 x A4 double-sided sheet of notes. The aid can be handwritten or typed, it can be on coloured paper and can contain diagrams. It can’t be a photocopy of a text book page as it must be your own work and it will be collected at the end of the exam and returned to your Course Coordinator along with your completed exam paper.
So how do you make a good memory aid?
Make it legible
Don’t try and cram everything around the page in microscopic writing. You’ll end up wasting time in the exam trying to understand it.
Basic is best
Keep it simple by including all the basic formulas and theories. Don’t write down every single formula or theory you’ve ever seen, there is no way you’ll be able to fit a whole semester’s worth of work on your one page of double-sided notes. You’ll have trouble finding what formula you want and figuring out what they all mean and when to apply them.
Write in short hand
By writing in short hand you’ll be able to fit way more into your memory aid. For example, rather than supply and demand theory, with the theory written below, try ‘S&D’ with a graph.
Certain colours have actually been proven to help you remember things better. This is because colours enhance our attention, making us more likely to transfer the thing we’re reading to long-term memory. So whip out those highlighters!
Know what to leave out
There’s no need to include all the theory you’re already confident with. Focus on the concepts you’re unsure of, because these are the ones you’re likely to forget.
Keep it logical
Organise your content in a logical way that will assist you in memorising it. For example, break your theory down into particular topics and use sub-headings.
Include problem-solving strategies
What will really set you apart in exams is not your ability to recall information, but how you apply it. Consider including in your memory aid a formula for how you intend on answering different questions e.g. 1) Issue, 2) Rule, 3) Application, 4) Conclusion.
Practice using your memory aid
It’s a good idea to make your memory aid first and then take practice exams. If you practice using your memory sheet you’ll be quicker in the actual exam as you will know where certain things are on the sheet.
A memory aid can help in lowering your stress about the exam but don’t forget to actually study. The purpose of the memory aid isn’t to copy from – just to boost your memory recall. Remember that everyone can write a memory aid, but not all memory aids are made equal.