After spending hours studying, it is frustrating to discover how over time you have been forgetting what was supposed to be already settled in memory. It is the oblivion curve, inevitable but controllable .
What is the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve?
In 1885, the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, in his work “On memory” coined for the first time the concept “forgetting curve” to refer to the loss of information that we store in memory, with the passage of time, so gradual. It has its own graphical representation, a descending curve that describes how the data we remember decreases as time goes by.
Why do we tend to forget what we have learned?
To understand why we forget what we have learned, it is necessary to take into account a series of factors that are the ones that condition this decline in retention .
- The complexity of theprocessed information.
- The type of data storedand the way in which they are represented (figures, texts, graphics, images…)
- The importance that this matterhas for us. The more relevant it is or the more it affects us, the longer it will take us to forget it.
- The characteristics of each individual. Not all of us have the same retentive capacity nor do we forget at the same rate.
- Physical or psychological conditions suchas stress, fatigue, sleep or if we are sick, for example, directly influence our forgetfulness curve.
How to avoid the forgetting curve in oppositions and exams
When preparing for an opposition or studying for an exam, it is important to resort to some strategy that allows us to combat that curve . Avoiding it is impossible because it is a natural process that affects us all, but its effects can be reduced. For this, attention must be paid to three aspects: the study process, self-assessment tests, and revision.
The Study and Retention Process
The main success factor when trying to reduce this learning curve is to face the memorization process with the most appropriate method. Whichever you choose, it has to adapt to your needs and circumstances, but there are a series of tips that you can follow and that will help you:
- Choose the right space , a comfortable and quiet place.
- Set realistic goals .
- Set a study routine, a schedule that also includes time for rest. Better if they are short and frequent sessions than long and spaced ones.
- Eliminate any possible distractions that could make us lose concentration.
- Underline while reading the topic, make diagrams and mental maps .
If you need it, you can review some of the memorization techniques that we have compiled and apply them to your study process.
Every time you finish a topic it is necessary to check what you have assimilated . Self-assessment tests ensure that the knowledge acquired is fixed in memory. They will also help you to check which parts you should reinforce. As you progress through the content, in addition to doing a test on each topic, you can group the syllabus and finally make a global evaluation of the entire syllabus. If possible, use exams from other years to familiarize yourself with the format and type of questions.
One method to keep in mind is that he recommends doing a short test for each topic (25-30 questions), another every three days on the last topics studied (50-60 questions) and every 16 days to test ourselves with a longer one. (100 questions)
The review process
Developing a review plan will make it easier for us to settle all that information that we have been processing and therefore slow down the curve of forgetting. In the study strategy it must occupy a preferential place and it also requires an organization. As we advance in new topics, it is important to reinforce the previous ones with the review. If we leave it for the end, the curve will have already begun or what is the same, we will have already forgotten matter.
If you are looking for a reliable method, this is an alternative backed by several studies:
- The day after you have studied a topic, give it a first review.
- Before a week goes by check it again.
- After fifteen days , review it again.
- You can review it again before the final review of the entire agenda.
Try to see how these intervals fit your times, otherwise you can adapt them.
Being aware that suppressing the curve is not possible, if you follow all these tips you will see how you have managed to reduce its effects and stop that loss of retention .