Strange memory hacks that you won’t BELIEVE!

As IB students, we’re looking for every advantage we can possibly get when it comes to improving our memory. Countless classes in the IB feel like they’re testing your ability to memorize information more than your ability to actually understand and explain it. Psychology, Biology, Economics, and History are often cited as the most difficult classes to recall all the information from because the syllabus is just so large! At Lanterna our tutors have tried every possible way to improve our memory, and there’s a few strange hacks that have stuck with us! Try these out and see if they make a difference for you!



It is well-documented that specific scents can actually help trigger particular memories. If you do your revision wearing a particular pungent perfume and then apply that perfume prior to taking your exam, your brain will actually be slightly better at remembering the information that you’d revised! Your brain makes associations between senses and information, so might as well use that to your advantage!

In fact, a study from Northumbria University says that Rosemary or Rosemary Oil is the best possible scent to apply before a test! Students working in a room with an aroma of rosemary displayed 5-7% better results. That could be the difference between a 6 and a 7 in the IB! Try this out next time you’re sitting a test.


Taking a Walk 

According to the study “Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic fitness in preadolescent children” published in 2010, all other things being equal, students who get 20 minutes of exercise prior to an exam score significantly better than those who don’t. This doesn’t even need to be going for a run, simply a walk will do! The researchers repeated the experiment with teenagers and adults and found the same results. 

It’s very common to think that on a test day you want to have everything go as smoothly as possible in the lead-up, so you might ask your parents for a ride, drive, or take the bus instead of biking or walking to school. If you have the opportunity, we’d massively recommend that you choose the latter option to get your body moving and boost that exam score! 


Audio Notes

Now this tip might sound a little self-indulgent but it’s scientifically proven to boost your ability to recall information. Reading aloud is one of the most surefire ways of boosting the ability to remember content versus just reading in your head. Why not combine this truth with the ability to go over those topics or ideas you struggle with? Use the audio recording feature on your phone, pop in some headphones, and walk to school with those key ideas going round in your mind. We all have different ways of absorbing information, and audio is a method that many students forget about. Why not be the difference, and see if it works for you?

If you want to go even deeper, why not make a song? Are you amazed by how many lyrics to music you can remember? Recognise this and use it for your IB exams! You can choose your favourite song at the moment and rewrite it to be relevant to the subject you’re studying. Don’t underestimate the power of rhyme and rhythm for recalling information!


We all know that the IB loves giving us a mountain of content to cover for all our subjects. It’s clearly not time-effective then, to re-read all of our notes and textbooks again and again. We need a way to condense information quickly and in a way that we can remember effectively. This is where acronyms prove super useful! Use one word to remember a whole host of content. BIDMAS, for example, is a word that helps Maths students remember the correct order of answering an equation:


Give this a go across your subjects, our tutors are a big fan of this method!



This tip works in a similar way to the scents above. Your brain can make a strong association between the sense of taste and your own memory. If you eat a certain snack or chew a particular flavour of gum whilst studying a particular topic, chewing that same gum or eating that same snack will trigger your memory. Why not walk into school chewing that gum on the day of the exam? We promise it will trigger some memories that you thought you’d forgotten!


So there we have it. Five strange memory hacks that could be the difference in reaching your IB potential! Want to find out more about how Lanterna can help you in smashing your exams…

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