Whats a Recall Pattern

At the Evelyn Wood program, we prefer to call our lesson notes "recall patterns," because their main function is to enable you to organize and then draw easily and efficiently on the material you've taken in during study sessions.

The ability to recall is the ability to write or relate orally, in your own words, information that you've gained from what you've read. By this definition, then, recalling is directly tied into the process of remembering.

The student who has a good memory, along with an ability to make an intelligent presentation of the facts and concepts remembered, is going to earn the highest grades. In fact, you might say that the achievements of all honors students begin with the art of committing key information to memory.

Two of the main elements that promote a good memory are strong associations between different items of information and powerful impressions made on the mind by the assigned material. Many memory experts recommend, for example, that you link different items together through mental pictures. Also, they may suggest that you root them in dramatic, absurd or amusing thoughts or emotions.

Suppose you want to remember a group of unconnected items on a shopping list. These might include catsup, lettuce, carrots, celery, toilet paper, beets, oranges and toothpaste. Remembering these eight items without writing them down may be chancy, especially if you have a lot of other things on your mind. But if you link them together into an absurd picture in your mind, remembering becomes much easier.

For example, you might picture these items as part of a funny little "grocery man": His body is the catsup bottle; his head is the lettuce; one arm is a carrot; another arm is a piece of celery; his eyes are beets; his nose is an orange; he's on a street lined with toilet paper; and he's riding a toothpaste-tube-shaped rocket ship. If you know there are ten items and you associate them in this absurd but connected sequence, you're much more likely to remember all of them.

The same principles apply when you're taking notes. There's very little that's memorable about writing sentence after sentence in a notebook. But if you structure your notes into a logically connected, visually impressive pattern on the paper, you're much more likely to recall later what you've written.

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