How to Retain Information: The 3 Phases of Long-Term Memory


Do you find yourself forgetting what you’ve learned? Even though you’re certain you’ve gone over your notes as carefully as possible, your mind goes blank on the day of your chemistry or biology exam. You go through your thoughts in an attempt to find that words or concepts, but nothing comes to mind.

If you are curious about how to convert what you’ve studied into long-term memory, read on to find out the secret hack of long-term memory!


How good is your short-term memory?

You’ve probably heard the terms “short-term” and “long-term” used to describe how well you remember things. Things that we recall quickly, such as a phone number or a set of directions, are known as short-term memories. Short-term memories last about 20 seconds before being moved to long-term memory for permanent storage or being deleted. The distinction between short-term and long-term memory is that short-term memory has limited storage capacity, but long-term memory has infinite capacity. Now we want to turn those short-term recollections of the altered information into long-term memories!


Long Term Memory Storage Explained

Items are either transferred to long-term memory or discarded when working from short-term memory. Sensory register, short-term storehouse, and permanent storehouse for memories that have been consolidated through time are the three stages of long-term memory storage.


What are the sensory register, short-term storehouse, and permanent storehouse?

When you listen to a song and it plays in your head, this is referred to as a sensory register. The short-term storehouse is the space between sensory memory and long-term storage where information is temporarily stored before being transmitted. When new memories are formed, it takes time for them to connect with earlier memories that have been stored in the permanent storage area.


Why We Forget, According to the Forgetting Curve

The forgetting curve was proposed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 1880s. Ebbinghaus discovered that unless we make an effort to remember information, we forget more of it as time goes on. As a result, memory strategies such as spaced repetition and active recall, which we will go over in more detail later, are critical for avoiding the natural process of forgetting

The Secret Hack of Long-Term Memory Storage

Here are a few insider tips to help you recall more.

 1. Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is the first rule of thumb for remembering information that needs to be transferred from short-term to long-term storage. Allow time for the content to sink in, then make a timetable to repeat it at regular intervals until your memory recall is flawless. This is how your schedule might look: Today, review this chapter for the first time, then review it again tomorrow, next week, and then again next month. This information will be put away in your long-term memory now that you have not only revisited the topic but also made aside time to review it again and again.


2. Active Recall

The next step is active recall. While learning, active recall is a process in which you actively trigger your memory. This is where you put your textbooks and notes down and recall what you’ve studied without consulting your notes. Prepare a list of questions about the chapter you’ve just finished studying, then sit in your thoughts and answer them on your own. Another option is to jot down everything that comes to mind on a sheet of paper. This procedure compels you to retrieve data from your memory.

Many students assume that writing out their notes as a sort of revision will help them remember what they have learned. If you’ve been using this study approach for a long time, be honest with yourself: can you remember more than half of what you’ve written? There’s a definition here, the main notion there, and that’s all there is to it. Active recall, in contrast to passive study methods such as reading and rewriting your notes, is an active and exciting procedure that aids memory retrieval and retention.


You Save Time with Spaced Repetition and Active Recall

Even though spaced repetition and active recall appear to be time-consuming due to the amount of time required to set aside for these strategies to operate, they actually save you time in the long run: if you learn something for an hour, it usually takes less than ten minutes to recall it. With this understanding, you can be confident that as you retain more information, the time it takes you to revisit the topic with each consecutive spaced repetition will get shorter and shorter.


3. Elaborative Rehearsal

Incorporate a memory technique known as elaborative rehearsal into your studying to assist inspire yourself to study. This method forces your brain to digest the material in a more in-depth manner, storing it in long-term memory. This approach can be used in a variety of ways.

When studying the term of a cell, for example, correlate its name with color. You’ll be reminded of the cell’s name every time you think about that color.

You can group things together to make it easier to remember them, such as the pieces of the respiratory system in one group and the muscular system parts in another. Mnemonic methods can help you remember terms as well.


4. Teaching

Verbalize what you’ve learned to someone else to help reinforce the information you’ve learned. Teaching is a tried and true means of retaining knowledge. According to studies, explaining an idea to someone else increases your chances of remembering what it is and why it is essential. Consider a period when you were asked to mentor a classmate or teach a sibling something. You may not realize it, but you went above and above to completely comprehend the concept in order to effectively communicate the information. You not only enlighten others, but you also re-learn the information. If you can, try to include teaching in your study plan—it may be as simple as asking a buddy who is studying the same subject to listen to you explain a concept.


5. Studying with friends and Doing Practice Papers

This takes me to an additional point about memory retention study techniques. When you exchange topics with peers, they may be able to point out knowledge gaps that you were previously unaware of. Furthermore, studying with friends gives you an insight into their study approaches.

This introduces you to various effective approaches you may not have considered before, such as doing practise papers to help you apply what you’ve learned. You are basically preparing for the actual exam by doing so.


6. Comprehension

Comprehension is the final step in properly grasping and remembering knowledge. Someone else wrote the textbook you’re studying on their own terms. Because the words are uniquely yours, in an expression that you are comfortable with, you will find it simpler to recall things when you process and write out information in your own terms.



Long-term memory is a challenging process that requires time and effort to master, but the more you practice, the easier it will become to remember things. The aforementioned approaches have been found to aid memory retention in studies, and we hope you give them a try to see for yourself!