How not to forget what you read: tips from the champion on memorization

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

A step-by-step algorithm that will help you keep all the most important in your head.

With the help of books, we can reach great people and “peep” their secrets of success, we can gain a new skill or learn some chips that will propel us towards our goals. Books are a great tool for developing thinking. But, unfortunately, no one taught us at school or university how to memorize what we read. Therefore, information flies in one ear and flies out of the other.

In this article, we’ll just talk about what to do so that everything read remains in the head and we can use it. The algorithm described below is based on studies of the brain and tested by experience.

First day
Step 1

Every 20 minutes of reading or after each interesting thought, we pause and answer ourselves the question: “What did I understand (a)?” We retell important points in our own words and make draft notes (preferably in the form of sketchy pictures).

Why do I need to pause within 20 minutes? In the 80s, a German psychologist by the name of Ebbinghaus investigated how a person forgets and found out that from the information that we remember, we lose about 40% in the first 20 minutes, about 60% in an hour, and after 24 hours it remains in the head no more than 33–35%.

If we do not do anything with the information received in the first 20 minutes, then we risk forgetting a significant part.

Why do you need to retell and not re-read, for example? In the 1960s, psychologist Endel Tulving conducted an interesting experiment. It had two groups of participants: team A and team B. The subjects were given a list of nouns like “cat – necklace”, “elephant – pillar”, and also the task: to read the entire list six times. The fact that words need to be remembered was not mentioned.

Then team A has left the same list, and team B was given another. And they asked participants from both groups to remember as many pairs as possible. You will be surprised, but the results were about the same.

Then the researchers decided to check what would happen if one group began to reread the text, and the other to pause and retell. And of course, the second group was much better at the testing text.

When we retell something, we make leads for new information through our familiar words and familiar examples. That is, it works in much the same way as with remembering names: a person named Nikolai gets acquainted with us (new information), and we mentally note that this person is called the same as our brother (old information).

Bottom line: we read with pauses and retell what we read in our own words.

Step 2
Having finished reading on the first day, we make an abstract of draft notes. The ideal way is to create an intelligence card because it’s more convenient to work with it: repeating will turn out faster and easier than in the case of the usual abstract.

Step 3
After we have made a compendium, we pronounce all the main ideas three times in a row. When something is repeated three times, the brain begins to consider the information important, neural connections are strengthened and information in the future is remembered more easily.

Step 4
Repeat from memory important points one or two hours before bedtime. Everything that you repeat before going to bed, the brain remembers first.

Second and subsequent days
First, we recall from memory what we have already read. It is very simple and fast if you have made an abstract in the form of an intelligence card. Next, apply the first-day algorithm.

Why is that? First, repetition is important in itself. For information to be firmly entrenched in memory, it must be repeated for at least three consecutive days. Secondly, everything that you read further will be based on what you have already read, and it is better to refresh this information. Not for nothing in the series before the new episode shows important points from the previous one.

After reading the whole book
Ideally, if you immediately begin to apply the read information. Then you don’t need to do anything else to remember, just enjoy your results.

But it also happens that we just want to remember something and we don’t yet understand how to use it in the future.

In such cases, you will have to additionally repeat what you read at intervals. And if everything is done correctly, then the repetitions themselves will be few, and the information will become “yours” and will be remembered forever.


  1. We read in blocks of 20 minutes and in pauses retell in our own words important points.
    2. We make a summary and immediately recall the key ideas from memory three times in a row.
    3. Repeat before bedtime.
    4. The next day, repeat everything you read.
    5. Again, follow steps one through three.

That’s all for today. Develop and become smarter every day, and may super memory be with you!


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