The ‘generation effect’ is a phenomenon that shows we are more likely to retain information if we
are active, and not passive, in our learning process. For example, reading requires less cognitive
work from your brain and you may get lower grades because your brain has not worked hard to
acquire the information which you have read.
But if you produce the information yourself (e.g.: creation of your own summary notes and mind
maps) rather than passively reading it, you are more likely to remember. The bigger the effort
required to process information, the greater the ‘regeneration effect’ (or the ability to remember
Holidays are a great time to pull out your textbooks and start creating your own study notes, mind
maps or information flow charts especially on subjects and topics that you find more challenging to
keep up with during the school term.
The ‘spaced repetition’ describes how your brain is encoded to make memories. If you only go over
something once, your brain discards the information and deems it as unimportant without the need
to access it again. But if you go over the information frequently, the brain will strengthen and
consolidate this information as memories. The limitation is that our brain can only remember a small
amount of new information at one time.
This explains why cramming before exams does not work and it is more effective to do little but
often revision over a period of time (e.g.: like a couple of days). If you choose not to study for a
period of time, you have broken the momentum of spaced repetition and information retention. On
the other hand, having more free time during the holidays allows you to start remembering some
subject information that you have trouble retaining during your hectic schooling days.
When you study and do your revision, it is a form of brain exercise. Like other parts of our body, the
brain is an important organ that also needs stimulation and strengthening. Exercising your brain by
simulating cognitive activity can maintain and improve brain function.
For instance, if you do your weight training properly, the connective tissues in our muscles are
reinforced, making your muscles stronger. The same thing happens when you train your brain
properly. Connective tissues between the neurons in your brain are being strengthened to work
better and faster. Challenging your brain to learn new things is also a form of brain exercise that can
improve your memory capacity. Besides revising your schoolwork during the holidays, try these brain
training games like jigsaw puzzles, word games, learning a foreign language, or playing music.
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