Power of Active Recall

Memorizing facts and points is one of the most challenging parts of being a student, especially when you are a medical student in a university. Lectures, projects and other small group learnings. It always feels like there is not much time to sit, revise and remember everything we study. Sometimes, it becomes really exhausting and time-consuming to make notes because there is a lot of information. There are many ways to remember things better but one of the most effective methods is ACTIVE RECALL.

Active recall is nothing fancy. It is basically a way of stimulating your memory by understanding and recalling the information actively. The easiest way of explaining active recall is the moment where you try to figure out what is the answer at the back of a flashcard right before turning it. It is a retrieval practice where you actively find and retrieve a file from a  huge storehouse full of information. It is totally different from passive studying like highlighting and re-reading where information only travels one way. Active recall is something more effective in maintaining your information as a long memory.

These are a few ways to use active recall in your study routine:

  1. The SQ3R Method

Using the 5 steps to remember huge chunks of information

  1. Survey: Briefly go through a topic to get a big picture of it
  2. Question: Create some questions that you have on the topics
  3. Read: Actively read and try to answer your question
  4. Retrieve: Recall from what you read. Use your own words whether orally or in writing
  5. Review: Repeat what are the main points and summarize what you learnt.
  1. FEYNMAN Technique

Teach what you learnt to someone in your own words and simple terms. Nothing works better than teaching someone. This technique will help you understand the topic and help you find out which parts you have to work on. It is a great active recall technique that will enhance your memory.

  1. Flashcards

Flashcards basically use:

  1. Spaced repetition: Where new/ difficult concepts are studied more frequently than easier known concepts. Challenge you on your weaker arrears.
  2. Metacognition: Help you identify what you need to know, Judge how well you know something, and make strategies to improve. It’s basically. It creates more neuron pathways by connecting information. 

However, you should also know that some methods may actually slow your progress in remembering things:

  1. Passive studying: Reading notes, highlighting, watching videos 
  2. Not having consistent studying habits
  3. Last-minute cramping
  4. NOt taking good notes
  5. NOt optimizing your brain for the exam

Active recall is going to help you improve your memory power and also have a consistent study method. BUT REMEMBER: You still can use your textbook and highlight information. I am not saying it is wrong. I am just saying include an active recall in your routine and make memorizing a tiny bit easier.

by Ugeshwary (ME2/21)

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