Tests can be intimidating. All those questions, so little time, and your mind just went blank. Fortunately, people who take numerous tests learn how to use memory aids that help them retain and recall needed facts. Here are some tips.
One key to remembering things is relevance. I call it peg learning. If you come up with a new fact that you want to remember you need to have an easy-to-get-to place in your brain where you can later find it. Pegs are simply primary categories on to which secondary facts can be “attached.” For example, new facts about clouds are attached to the “weather” peg. You also can think of the hierarchy as an outline with headings and subheadings. As new facts are added — “nimbus” in a cloud name means “moisture” — you mentally associate it with “weather” and you can more easily recall it later.
Another key to memory is the visual. If you can visualize the fact, you can more readily remember it. For example, stratus clouds are straight. Cumulus clouds are accumulated or built-up. You can even group associated facts by visualizing them. New facts about a specific flight instrument can be visually remembered by associating the facts with the instrument as you see it in your memory. Then you will more easily recall the fact by either looking at the instrument or visualizing it in your mind.
Acronyms — words formed by the first letter of several words — can be useful memory aids. Your ground school and flight instructors probably will offer you a few to help you remember things. You also can come up with some of your own. For example, remembering which way a magnetic compass swings (causing a reading error) is made easier by remembering “ANDS.” It stands for Accelerate North, Decelerate South, meaning accelerating causes the compass to give a more northerly heading than is true, and decelerating gives a more southerly heading. Use anything you can come up with to help you remember facts that you’ll need for the test and for flying.
Many ground schools and multimedia training programs offer additional test-taking tips and memory aids. There’s much to learn and remember as you become a private pilot — just as there was much to learn when you first began to drive. It won’t be long before you ace the tests and get your certificate!