Forgetting is normal. Actually, in most situations forgetting is the rule; remembering is the exception. Will you remember this post tomorrow? I hope you will, but most likely a fear you won’t. Let me tell you why.
A German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus started experimenting with memory in the 1800s. He developed an experiment in which he had to study a series of non-sense syllables and later determined how many he could remember (and how quickly he would forget). Ebbinghaus experiments lead to what we called The Forgetting Curve Theory.
According to this theory, one hour after you have learned totally new information, chances are that you could forget as much as one half of that information. By the next day it could be as much as two thirds.
In terms of classroom learning it could be represented like this:
Is that always the case? Do we always forget that much? The answer to both questions is no. Multiple factors affect how much information you can retain. But when you take multiple classes you’re exposed to a lot of new and diverse information. And there’s a big chance of not remembering all of it for your exams, unless you put a lot of effort in learning it.
How can you prevent or minimize this loss of information? Here are two simple activities you can put into practice:
- Get into the habit of reviewing your class notes and materials every day (even if your class doesn’t meet every day).
- Immediately after getting out of class (or as soon as possible on the same day) write a small summary of everything you can remember from that class.
With time and practice you’ll witness how much you can gain with just a little more effort. Hopefully your college experience will be better than this one: