Forgetting is a common part of daily life. Sometimes these memory slips are simple and fairly harmless, such as forgetting you have an assignment to do, where you kept your keys or who you borrowed your notes.


 To forget simply means failure to remember. Forgetting or dis-remembering is the apparent loss or modification of information already encoded and stored in an individual’s short or long-term memory. It is a spontaneous or gradual process in which old memories are unable to be recalled from memory storage.



You may have certain information stored in your mind but unable to recall it if the right cue is missing. In other words, if you study lesson notes in one way and a test question comes in another way, you may be unable to recall it. To prevent this, it is important that you learn material using as many of your own words as possible. When you can put something completely and accurately in your own words, it increases your ability to remember.


Learned material interferes with the recall of previously learned material. To deal with this, all material to be remembered must be refreshed in the mind by regular review and repetition. Materials should be learned in a structured manner. Students should revise before examination.

There are two basic types of interference that can occur:

  • Retroactive interference: This happens when newly acquired information interferes with old memories. For example, a teacher learning the names of her new class of students at the start of a school year might find it more difficult to recall the names of the students in her class last year. The new information interferes with the old information.
  • Proactive interference: This occurs when previously learned information makes it more difficult to form new memories. For example, learning a new phone number or password combination might be more difficult because memories of the old phone number and password combination interfere with the new information.


This cannot only inhibit memory but can also prevent learning. Too much input at one time into the senses inhibits learning and remembering. That is why it is normal to experience poor learning when studying with the television on, music playing, talking in the background and worrying about personal problems, etc.


Students who believe that they cannot remember are the ones most likely to forget. You must believe you can remember before you can. If believing in your ability to remember is difficult for you, see a counselor/learning skills specialist or start reprogramming your mind with positive self-talk such as: “I will remember this” and “I have a good memory.” Encourage and motivate yourself.


The most common reason why students forget is because they don’t study their notes enough. To remember something, it must first be learned (stored in long-term memory). If you don’t do what is necessary to get information into your long-term memory, you have under learned the material and forgetting is normal. To fight under learning, repeatedly recite or test yourself.

Learning is a process that takes time and repetition is the way to move information from short-term memory toward long-term memory. That is why when a material is reviewed just once or twice; it is difficult to remember during exams. With the tight schedules of today’s school, sufficient review is critical to learning for students.


The term “Effort” refers to finding out what humans need to do in order to remember and then do it. “Intention” means to deliberately choice to remember. The art of remembering is a direct result of the amount of effort exerted coupled with the intention to remember. Recall is the outcome of the effort you choose to allot to the task of remembering. Your mind does what you tell it to do and if you don’t intend to remember something, you are indirectly telling your mind not to remember, so you don’t. Students should tell themselves what they should remember.


There are several techniques that can help students remember information.

SELF-TESTING: Regular self-testing is a way to help reduce forgetfulness among students. Frequent self-assessment would go a long way in fighting forgetfulness.

SELF-EXPLANATION: Explaining how new information is related to known information or explaining steps taken during problem solving.

SUMMARIZATION: writing summaries of what is being learned, containing basic points on the subject matter.

HIGHLIGHTING/UNDERLINING: Marking important portions of materials/notes while reading increases the chances of remembering.

DISTRIBUTED PRACTICE: Implementing a schedule of practice on certain topics that spreads out study activities over time.

KEYWORD MNEMONIC: Using keywords and mental imagery to associate what is being learned/studied.

IMAGERY: Attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening.

REREADING: Restudying text material again after an initial reading will help in fighting forgetfulness.


Original article can be found here.