How do you memorize / visualize for tests?

  1. I am doing well on my lecture tests because they are scantron. I can mostly remember what things look like and can pick the right answer, however, when I have to fill in the blank - my brain goes blank and I don't remember. I tend to visualize what the answer looks like and how to spell it (we must use proper spelling for everything right now or its considered wrong).

    I have severe migraines and sometimes I think that either my medicine, prodrome / postdrome or diet mess with my brain - but I refuse to use any of that as an excuse. No one is going to give me an IEP job so I'm not going to ask for special accommodations now. Some days are better than others, which is why I think its related to other stuff going on in my brain. It seems to affect my short term memory the most. So I study every day in order to try to use repetition to cement things in my brain and not just cram at the last moment (although scanning notes prior to walking in the door does sometimes help bring words to mind). I write note cards multiple times in different orders and I have a tiny notebook I carry with me to read when I have idle time and can't pull out my phone to study.

    I can remember looking at words on a page, in my notes, on the power point and I can tell you where they are, but I can't recall what they say - its like a faulty photographic memory where the important part is blurred out. I think that I know what I'm doing until I get to lab and have to write everything out and I can't. Maybe its more about stress than anything else?

    Does anyone have recommendations or techniques that I can try? I have a test every Monday for the next 5 weeks (16 week semester shoved into 6 weeks) and I'm not feeling as confident as I would like.

    I appreciate any words of wisdom you can throw my way!! Thanks!!
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    About hurricanekat

    Joined: Oct '17; Posts: 215; Likes: 257

    7 Comments

  3. by   Trust in Jesus
    Continue writing the words you are trying to memorize. I'm not sure what class you are in, but when I took anatomy I would write the term over and over on a piece of paper. This should help to build some sort of muscle memory with your hand and make it easier to recall and write it on the test.
  4. by   AFutureNP
    Something that helps me is instead of focusing on memorizing, focus on understanding. Do you know the concept well enough to teach it to a classmate? Can you explain the process? Just pretend you're helping a struggling student and you're walking them through the topic. Talk out loud, who cares if you look crazy! At times when the words are on the tip of your tongue but you just can't come up with them, look them up and write those words down. Then start the process all over again. After "pretend-teaching" this concept a few times, you'll feel it flow. Then move on to the next topic. I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand vs. memorize. Because every new challenge is building on your mastery of the last one. When you truly understand a topic it will make you a better problem solver, and that's a big part of nursing.
  5. by   Wiggly Litchi
    One thing that helped me for preparing for those kinds of tests (I rarely get the luxury of scantrons ) was to make my own question bank from the book & my notes. I'd prepare it in quizlet and then run through the tests, setting the answer mode to "Written" - that way, you only get the question correct when you spell it right.
    Their import feature makes it a bit smoother, but then you'll have to format your typed notes to make importing easier.

    If you're a fan of paper flashcards, then write your answer on another piece of paper and see how you match up.

    It makes me happy to see students going out of their way to grasp material
  6. by   Wiggly Litchi
    Quote from AFutureNP
    Something that helps me is instead of focusing on memorizing, focus on understanding. Do you know the concept well enough to teach it to a classmate? Can you explain the process? Just pretend you're helping a struggling student and you're walking them through the topic. Talk out loud, who cares if you look crazy! At times when the words are on the tip of your tongue but you just can't come up with them, look them up and write those words down. Then start the process all over again. After "pretend-teaching" this concept a few times, you'll feel it flow. Then move on to the next topic. I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand vs. memorize. Because every new challenge is building on your mastery of the last one. When you truly understand a topic it will make you a better problem solver, and that's a big part of nursing.
    YES! Thank you for saying this.

    A few of my students tried the memorization only deal and it didn't serve them well in later exams when the professor started yo use more critical thinking // long answer questions in her tests. I work as a tutor and my understanding of the subjects I teach gets deeper the more I do this job. If you're lacking people to teach, talk to the family pet, or a stuffed animal (I am not kidding!). Learning a concept with the intent to teach it will help you understand the material more
  7. by   hurricanekat
    I've used quizlet to study with before but I've never made my own flashcards where I've had to type the answers in - I didn't know that was an option - thank you! Our instructor routinely gives us 2 minute drills during class. We pair up and he puts a topic on the board. Person 1 regurgitates everything they can remember about the topic for 1 minute. Person 2 gets 15 seconds to add or correct. Then the topic switches and you repeat - person 2 goes first and person 1 gets the 15 second follow up. It usually counts as bonus points as long as you both participate - but no points are given if someone speaks that isn't supposed to be speaking (no one wants to sit in silence for 55 seconds when you don't know anything about the topic). Its also hard to correct a peer if they have something wrong but that's what the 15 seconds is for - it helps us take critism from peers (in theory) and be confident enough in our answers to voice those corrections.

    I do actually repeat - a lot. I have an hour drive to and from work/school - so I either listen or talk during that time (so glad my car can't repeat anything I've said). I have topic flash cards for my drive - so I can just look at a topic and repeat everything I remember - then go to the next card. The cards don't actually have anything on them except topics (I am driving so I need to be safe). The little notebook is new for me this semester. Today I work a 12 hour shift and won't have much time to study when I get home. The notebook allows me to look at a topic and then think about it while I'm working (because my brain never seems to be idle). I'm not allowed to have my phone out and I don't have room in my apron for flashcards, but its the same kind of notebook I take orders in so no one notices. I'm hoping that this little extra will help.

    I'm in micro at the moment so spelling all the bacteria names gets rough. Most of the time I do need to do concepts but right now it seems to just be memorizing lists of organisms and attributes. I do have images of them of my phone (that I took from my scope samples) and when I look at an image, I repeat all the items I can remember associated with that particular image.

    Sometimes I think I just try to learn too much at once, but we are talking about people's lives (eventually) and that's a lot of responsibility to just try to skate by on. I believe that my future patients deserve my best and not just enough. Most of this is probably just self induced stress that I need to learn to deal with. If all goes well, I'll start school in January - so I hope to have all the kinks worked out by then!

    Thank you for your help. Its nice to know there are others out there willing to give us a leg up when we need it
  8. by   artifex
    You mention that you do well with images - me too, I am very visual. (I have migraines, too! I'm currently starting a new med and I did horribly on an exam because I'd just started it and it did bad things to my thinking. I should have known better, and now I'm only doing dosage increases on weekends. So I feel you.) ANYWAY. I paid for a Quizlet membership because it's cheap and you can put images on your flashcards. I also have the Sketches app on my phone and I draw pictures and put them in the answers. I can close my eyes and remember the picture, or if they offer scratch paper, I ALWAYS take it so I can draw/write out my reasoning. (My pictures are often totally silly, because sometimes the totally ridiculous/wacky will stick in my head.)

    I second people saying to reason it out - instead of sending your brain directly at retrieving an answer, try to find a roundabout/indirect way of relaxing your mind and letting it think toward it. (Amusingly, I got this idea from reading The Dead Zone, and it's generally worked for me.)
  9. by   Wiggly Litchi
    I am happy to help! I love that the professor makes you guys regurgitate information like that

    One thing I like to do is get information from different sources too! If I can hear someone phrase something differently and understand it well, then I know I've got a good handle on the information. I love listening to Kyle Sorensen's patho lectures on my way to school/work for this reason.
    My professor is amazing and she presents the information well, but hearing it in someone else's words really makes things click.

    Quizlet really is my jam though haha.... and drawing! Drawing diagrams really helps me to visually link everything together instead of just trying to comprehend words on a page~

    Quote from hurricanekat


    Sometimes I think I just try to learn too much at once, but we are talking about people's lives (eventually) and that's a lot of responsibility to just try to skate by on. I believe that my future patients deserve my best and not just enough. Most of this is probably just self induced stress that I need to learn to deal with. If all goes well, I'll start school in January - so I hope to have all the kinks worked out by then!


    Thank you for your help. Its nice to know there are others out there willing to give us a leg up when we need it
    When I feel like I'm trying to learn too much at once, I'll break it down and do an hour on one topic, an hour on another, break in the middle. If it gets to the point that I feel like I'm wading through pudding, I'll stop for a bit longer and do something fun for 30mins before getting back to it.

    The human brain can hold a staggering amount of information, so when I feel like it's just tooooo much, I remind myself that my brain can hold way more than my PC (take that, computer!).

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