When it comes to college, nothing is more important than passing classes. It’s why we are here. Partying, sports, and other social activities are great, but at the end of the day, you can’t receive a degree if you didn’t pass. So how does one pass a class? A very short, and non-specific, answer is memory. There is all kinds of information on memory, and a myriad of techniques proposed for improving it. From state dependent memory, which involves your level of intoxication when you study, to making connections and retrieval cues to help you remember certain things, there is a bunch of different ways to study. One that I am familiar with personally (and knew about before taking this class) is mood congruent memory. Mood congruent memory says that whenever a specific mood is felt, you are more likely to trigger or cue memories that you had when you were also in that same mood. For example, if you are currently feeling depressed, you are more likely to think about experiences that you once had, which were depressing. The opposite will occur if you are happy. Basically emotions and moods are strong retrieval cues that can help you remember things.
I have always done well when it comes to school and studying, but I was always looking for new ways improve my habits. My experience happened by accident. One night, before a test, I was studying and eating Taco bell. Taco bell is, by far, my favorite place to eat. It always seems to puts me in a good mood. Now, I definitely was worried about the test the next day. I was cramming, and didn’t think I would do that well on the test. The next day came, and still I was very worried. Right before the test, I had met up with one of my buddies, and he was telling me some jokes. This put me in a good mood, which was good, since I was about to take the test. I don’t have too many different moods, so when I am happy, it is basically the same happy as every other time. I took the test feeling that way, and it seemed to help out. I won’t tell you that I aced that test, but I felt at the time that it definitely went better than expected. I was able to remember a lot more than I had thought I would be able. Obviously, this kind of coincidence had to have happened before, but I had never taken notice. This time I did, and I told my buddy, who happened to know something about mood congruent memories, I thought that there was something to this way of studying.
Now, I always make sure I am in a good mood while studying. I do this knowing that before my most difficult tests, I will go out of my way to have some fun, or do something I know will make me happy. This doesn’t always involve Taco bell, but occasionally I eat it before an exam, in hopes to produce the same effect. I now know there is evidence to suggest that this type of studying works, so I am sure to take advantage of it when I can.