Drawing on Your Memory: A Test Prep Method


The Bayeux Tapestry, chronicling the English/N...

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It’s exam review time, and you’ve got multiple dates, events, people, and places to know. You’ve been an attentive student and hunger to do well in the class, but the collective knowledge seems a bit overwhelming. Well, lots of us have been there; and believe it or not, you can turn such a seemingly stressful study challenge into an enjoyable experience. Here’s how: draw yourself a cartoon as a mnemonic device. This can be amazingly effective, particularly since you use your own ingenuity to create the picture (that in itself is a form of meditation on the material).

First, gather your course notes and creative palette (paper and colored pencils are great, though cutting up old magazines could suit your purpose; or for digital panache, you could use a tool like Glogster).

Now begin your studying project: use copious amounts of color, dialogue bubbles, and humor. Need to remember something about a historic figure? Sketch him or her clutching a symbol of whatever you need to know. Need to remember an important date? Draw it and drape a symbol over it, under it, or around it. For example: start with a large “1066” and to indicate the Norman Conquest, sketch in some victorious soldiers and name one Norman. To indicate the linguistic significance, you could draw something that reminds you of France or use dialogue bubbles if you know French.

The trick, of course, is to focus your creativity squarely on the lessons you’re trying to cement in your brain. Don’t get so wrapped up in the art that you forget the matter. Also, in order for this to be an effective method, the cartoon should serve to jog your memory about something you already have studied. That is, the cartoon-drawing shouldn’t be the only time you’ve touched the material! In the end, if the above example doesn’t remind you that 1066 was the date of the Norman Conquest, significant because it heralded the infusion of the French language into English, then the cartoon isn’t helping you.

This project works especially well for History, Humanities subjects, Politics, Geography – and anywhere people and symbols are relatively easy to envision in space.

P.S. Read more about the Norman Conquest here (scroll to “This week” – and on the way down, stop to read the featured poem!):

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1 Comment

Glogster is an online tool by which you can create your own digital posters. Although the site touts the tool as a way to “amaze your friends,” I think you can take the “amazing” potential here and use it for your own studies.

A perennial problem when it comes to studying is interest. Don’t fall into the trap of imagining it’s the teacher’s job to entertain you: if in your studies, you don’t find a certain subject interesting, you need to find a way to make it so. Using Glogster certainly would give your creative juices a boost and, if you spend some time thinking about it, I’m sure you can find a way to make just about any lesson visually and perhaps musically interesting.

Although the glogs are easily shared via social media, it’s possible to keep your creations private. Finally, Glogster also offers a learning platform just for educators and schools, which of course is indicative of this tool’s potential to help you study.

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