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Bad Memory? These Smart Tricks Boost Your Recall to Help You Ace that Test

Published June 1, 2015

We've all had those moments. You forget your own phone number. You blank on your best friend's little sister’s name. You stop dead, mid-sentence, unable to recall what you were going to say. You get to the test and you know you know the answer, but … you can't remember it to save your life.

Why do our memories fail us in the most crucial moments, and what can we do to fix it?

In these four articles, McGraw-Hill author Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne dives deep into the power—and the failings—of our memories to help you unlock the secrets to remembering the truly important stuff (like what you need to memorize for that upcoming exam).


It's called the "response competition theory," and it states that while practice makes perfect, trying to memorize one piece of information too often can cause related information to be suppressed.


Although you may think you recall that situation perfectly, you often don't remember exactly how things went down. And usually, your memories paint you in a better light than reality does. (Don't worry: we all do it.)


Here are five memory errors you probably commit all the time, and the science behind why you make them and how to stop.


Getting older doesn't mean your memory is getting worse. Difficulty in learning new things later in life can be attributed to a variety of factors, from test anxiety to social expectations to the simple fact that a person who has lived a long life has a lot more to remember than someone who has lived a shorter life.