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Teacher, I learnt and I understood what you taught, but now I forgot everything!

Many students have given this reason, over the years, for not being serious with their studies until it’s closer to the exams period. Their reasoning is, if I’m going to forget everything, why study so hard now? Wouldn’t it be a waste of my effort?

I’d like to share from my experience, both as a teacher and a student, some facts to dispel this myth:

1.Some students are really just using this as an excuse :p

That’s the real reason why some students are not starting earlier. If that’s you, start being honest with yourself yeah 😉

2.Even if you forget everything, it was not a waste of effort!

If you put in the effort, you expect to see results. It makes total sense. And so you did – you put in good effort, listened in class, did your practices, asked a lot of questions, and you feel like you want to take the exam (for this topic) now! But of course, exam’s not until a couple of months down the road. Two weeks later, your friend asks you what you learnt two weeks ago – that topic that you were so good in – and you don’t even remember what the topic was! Finally when you remembered what the topic was, you could only vaguely remember what was in it. You go into panic mode – have I forgotten everything? Aarrghh!!!

Ok, wait, wait. Don’t panic. You need to recognise that other than that subject that you worked so hard in, you also have many other subjects, and you learn new things everyday. It’s normal to not be able to remember that topic two weeks ago, even though you were so good.

But, when it comes to tests and exams, you will realise that you take a much shorter time to revise than someone who has not gotten only weak understanding of the lesson back then. And so, you will progress much faster and better. That’s what will separate you from the rest, the A student from the others.

3.Boost your revision power with effective note-taking

When I was a student, I discovered that making my own notes, to summarise the contents of each topic was something that was very powerful when it came to revisions. Everyone communicates and use words differently, so how nice would it be, if you could have someone who thinks and talks exactly in the same way as you do, to teach you for the coming test or exam? Yes, it’s possible to have that person, and that person is YOU!

When you have a good set of notes done when you are learning, that’s what it would do for you. When it comes to revision, it would be as if the you from the past (who had understood thoroughly the topic) are teaching the you now (who has forgotten most of it), in the way that you would understand best.

So then, when it comes to lessons, listen really attentively and take notes. After the lesson, look through it and tidy it up (correct and reorganise as necessary). When doing practices, you might want to take down new discoveries or important areas that you tend to overlook, or common mistakes that you often make, that you might remind yourself later what to look out for.

So here you have, some simply yet effective ideas that will help you go a long way – not just where you are studying now, but for all your days as a student and beyond, whenever you are learning something new. So the next time you realise that you have forgotten what you’ve learnt, remember that you have had fun listening, learning, taking notes, and so you don’t have to panic yeah 😉

Article by : Mr. Ng Hai Wei
Secondary Mathematics Tutor
Kent Ridge Education