“I just can’t seem to remember well enough to
pass the test.”
“Names give me trouble. I can’t seem to
“There are so many different items that I can’t
remember the prices.”
Have any of these thoughts ever applied to you?
At final exam time, for instance, you may have
difficulty remembering important information.
Why is this so? Why are some things more
difficult to remember than others?
You can remember facts if you need to
remember them and if you want to remember
them. In other words, your purpose and your
motivation make it possible for you to recall
facts. You may not be able to remember your
teacher’s name, but it is easy to remember the
name of the girl you met at the dance last
week–or remember certain information, your
purpose for remembering stands out sharply.
You can’t seem to remember facts about the
geography of a country that doesn’t interest you,
but facts about the country you are all excited
about visiting next summer are easy to
remember. Why? Because you have a special
reason (purpose) for remembering about the
country. You are motivated and that helps you to
concentrate harder. Increased concentration, in
turn, make the information easier to remember.
Your purpose helps you to decide which
information to remember, because purpose
directs your attention to what you want to know.
Read the following paragraph only once. Assume
that your purpose in reading is to remember as
many of the advantages of physical fitness as
Physical fitness increases the efficiency of
your lungs and your heart. It helps you to
control your weight and it is an aid to you in
controlling emotional tension and anxiety.
It also helps you to withstand physical
fatigue for a longer time.
How many advantages do you remember? Do
you think that you will remember information
longer when you know what you are looking for?
Do you think that you will remember the
advantages of physical fitness longer if you are
personally concerned about it?
Now that you see how purpose and motivation
help you to remember, let us consider the
processes that increase your ability to
ASSOCIATION: When you associate, you
make the things you want to remember
relate to each other in some way. Once
you know what your purpose in reading–
that is, once you know the information
you are looking for–you can try to
remember this information by fitting it
into some general category.
VISUALIZATION: Visualization helps you
to create a strong, vivid memory. Try to
picture in your mind what you wish to
remember. Try to remember a man’s
name for example, by seeing his face in
your mind and associating his name with
it. You can remember an important date
in history (perhaps a battle or a peace
meeting or an inaugurating) by picturing
the scene in your mind with the date in big
letters in front of this visualization.
CONCENTRATION: What is
concentration? People often say that they
can’t concentrate or that they will never
be able to learn to concentrate better.
Quite often it is our way of life that takes
away our former ability in this area. Small
children are well skilled in concentration.
Have you ever seen a youngster so
absorbed in playing a game or in reading
or in just daydreaming, or visualizing,
that he doesn’t hear when his parents
call? He is punished for this and soon
learns that he shouldn’t concentrate as
hard on what he is doing, but that he
should gear some of his attention to
listening for his parent’s (or teacher’s)
Concentration can be defined as focusing
attention on one thing and to one thing
only. When you do an exercise which
provides an opportunity for you to do this,
it is basically an exercise in
concentration. How can you learn to
concentrate better? Visualizing will help.
Visualizing forces attention to one thing
only. If you try to see specific pictures as
you read, it will help you to concentrate.
Not looking back will also help you to
concentrate. When you do not allow
yourself to look back, you force yourself to
concentrate in order to get the meaning
the first time. Making sure of your
purpose in a third way to force
concentration. When you read for a
particular purpose, you will concentrate
on what you read because, as you read,
you ask yourself, “Does this satisfy my
REPETITION: When you have difficulty
remembering textbook information, you
should repeat the procedures for
associating, visualizing, and
concentration. The first step in
remembering a list, for example, is to
categorize it (association) and visualize it
(thus forcing concentration). Do this once
and then repeat the same task frequently.
The repetition will help burn the
information into your memory.
Now, how do you apply association,
visualization, concentration, and repetition to
remembering information in textbook chapters?
1. Try to understand the general outline of
the chapter. Understanding how the
chapter is put together provides a
skeleton to which you can associate
2. Visualize as you read. Try to see pictures.
3. Concentrate as you read. Try to read
information one time and then without
looking back tell yourself what was said.
4. Repeat where necessary to burn details
into your memory.
Remembering what you read
Purpose –Have a specific purpose when you
read. This will help you to:
1. ASSOCIATE: Relate ideas to each other.
2. VISUALIZE: Try to see pictures in your
mind as you read.
3. CONCENTRATE: Have a specific purpose,
associating, and visualizing will help you
to do this.
4. REPEAT: Keep telling yourself important
points and associate details to these
“I just can’t seem to remember well enough to