FE Electrical | PE Power – 8 Ways to Improve Retention

If you have found yourself on this blog, then you are definitely underway or have plans to start the preparation for your FE or PE exam. The reason for coming here is that you are concerned about increasing and improving your memory and retention for the said exams.

To improve retention for FE and PE exams, you must follow the tips and suggestions presented here in our blog today. These best ways to improve retention will not only help you prepare for the FE or the PE exam but will also help you, in the long run, to develop a sharper command over your memory.

It is a given that the FE Electrical and Computer Exam and PE Power exam have a vast syllabus that requires a lot of time and effort to cover. The process can take months, and often, when students reach the end of the syllabus, they forget a lot of what they have learned. This can be extremely frustrating; therefore, we have covered 8 ways to improve retention for FE and PE exams which will help you mitigate the problem and improve your retention.

Just like how you can improve the essential skills of time management and focus, so can your memory.

How Does Our Memory Work?

How Does Our Memory Work

Memory, in its most basic form, refers to the ongoing process of knowledge retention across time. It is an essential component of human intelligence because it allows people to recall and rely on previous events to shape their knowledge of and conduct in the present.

Memory also provides humans with a framework for making sense of the now and future. As a result, memory is critical in both education and learning.

We have two types of memory – short-term working memory and long-term memory. Paying attention and hearing the information are counted and processed by short-term memory. Still, unless we consciously try to “lock it in” and transfer it to long-term storage, the memory soon disappears. That’s why taking notes and writing things down is so helpful.

Additionally, your brain works by forming associations. The more impressive, vivid, and emotional your thought, the more the encoding (conversion of short-term to long-term memory) is enhanced. Therefore, the more you participate physically, mentally, and emotionally while learning, the easier it will be to recall the information later. That’s why it’s so important to eliminate distractions and learn in an active manner.

You may have access to the most incredible memory tips for studying, but until you put in a deliberate effort to exercise those ways, your memory retention will not improve.

Why You Think Your Memory Isn’t Great

Why You Think Your Memory Is Not Great

Some of us need help paying attention. We’re uninvolved, passive, and just simply unobservant. We could glance at our watch and be unable to tell someone the time. We could open the fridge and forget what we were looking for. Some of us wouldn’t be able to direct someone to the nearest coffee shop even if we walked past it daily.

You may think this clearly indicates weak memory skills, but it is much more of a sign of poor listening effort. You can’t expect to recall something you never entirely paid attention to. It wasn’t transferred to your long-term memory in the first place. It may never have registered in your brain through inefficient listening, distraction, or disruption.

Therefore, before you conclude that your memory isn’t all that great or you may not be that good at retaining information, you should review the whole process that is involved in retaining even just one bit of information.

The issue may be somewhere in one of those steps, such as not listening properly or having distractions around you rather than in your memory and its storage capabilities.

In this blog, we’ll go over the 8 best ways to improve retention and memory using strategies that will optimize your efficiency in learning, recalling, and improving your brain function.

8 Best Ways to Improve Retention for FE and PE exams

Let us now look at the top 8 ways to improve retention for FE and PE exams but also help you improve the whole information retention process from listening and learning to the recall stage in the exam and in general conversations across daily life.

  1. Summarize the content
  2. Avoid multitasking while preparing for FE and PE exam
  3. Focus on high-yield content
  4. Know which strategies to use for the content you’re learning
  5. Eliminate disruptions
  6. Exercise
  7. Lower stress while preparing for FE electrical or PE power exam
  8. Mindset

1. Summarize the Content

Summarizing what you learn causes your brain to actively work in recalling what you learned. This improves your focus, learning efficiency, retention, and recall. Additionally, summarizing forces you to discern the most important parts of what you’re learning, which allows you to focus on the high-yield content; this is a point we’ll discuss further in this blog.

Therefore, when you are sitting down to start the preparation for your exam, it is highly recommended that you make a priority list and rate content according to their priority based on yield and overall importance.

2. Avoid Multitasking While Preparing for FE and PE Exam

Multitasking is needlessly taxing the brain. Furthermore, it overexerts your short-term memory as multiple pieces of information overload the brain as you switch back and forth between tasks. So if you are preparing for FE Exam or the electrical PE exam, no matter how tempted you might be to study while engaging in a conversation, or while the TV is playing nearby, you should always make sure your study space allows you to focus on one task at a time.

Studying while solely focused on that task will also help you save time. Because you will learn a topic in less time when you are focused on learning versus then, you will multitask and be involved in some other tasks. This is because your mind’s attention capacity will be divided into two tasks versus one.

3. Focus on High-Yield Content

This one might be self-explanatory. You should avoid studying unnecessary details, re-reading textbooks, or reviewing things you already understand, as these are all low-yield tasks.

Instead, focus on the things that are likely to be tested, such as reviewing essential concepts often found on the FE practice exams, doing practice problems, and focusing on weaknesses. In that case, you will reap the benefits of understanding the high-yield content well.

These are the things you will have to recall most often, so if you understand these well, it will be as if you can recall almost anything.

It is also important to remember that you don’t need to memorize formulas, values, etc. since all the information is available in the FE Reference Handbook.

4. Know Which Strategies to Use for the Content You’re Learning

If you’re learning deep concepts that need understanding, such as circuit analysis, there needs to be more action and strategy rather than just making flash cards. Instead, it would be best if you focused on doing problems or explaining the concept to yourself/other people. Additionally, you can utilize a technique known as the Feynman Method to help you understand deep concepts.

On the other hand, if you’re learning surface-level topics such as Ethics, Engineering Economics, or Computer Networks, it may be helpful to make flashcards as those will help in recalling organized facts.

Basically, it all depends on how you strategize your overall learning methodology to save time and ensure that the learning process is effective and efficient.

5. Eliminate Disruptions

When you sit down to study the books for the FE exam, for the first few minutes or so, your brain is just getting a feel of the new task and not actively focusing.

After that, depending on 5 minutes to an hour, you enter something called a flow state. You focus intensely, are completely immersed in the task, and can absorb the material with maximum attention and retention. However, if you pick up your phone to reply to a text or browse through social media for a few minutes, you will interrupt your flow state.

Your brain is not designed to switch back and forth between tasks; it is intended to focus intently on one thing at a time. That’s why you should eliminate all distractions and disruptions, as they will significantly lower your output during your study sessions.

Before you sit down to study, you should keep your cell phone silent and turn off the TV and other such devices.

You should also ensure that your study table and chair are comfortable and have all the necessary study materials and resources readily available and arranged within your hand’s range.

6. Exercise

There are a few things in life that cannot be improved or enhanced because of physical exercise. However, neglecting something so simple yet powerfully helpful can be easy in the middle of highly stressful times.

In terms of improving memory, exercise improves blood flow to the brain and provides it with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its peak. Not only that, but exercise also helps you de-stress. Hence, putting in an exercise session after a rigorous study schedule will help you relax and go back to the preparation process with renewed zeal.

7. Lower Stress While Preparing for FE Electrical or PE Power Exam

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol which weakens the part of your brain involved in short-term memory. Of course, this one is easier said than done but giving yourself time to relax and sleep well can work wonders in lowering stress.

You can also take deep breaths, particularly on test day, to relax your mind and improve your recall during the exam. Also, ensuring that you get enough rest, nutrition, and hydration as it is key to increasing memory retention.

8. Mindset

When you repeatedly forget things you studied and get questions wrong, it can be easy to get disheartened and think the problem is something you can’t control – but it is essential to remember that the situation is always in your control. There is always something you can do to change and improve your situation.

Additionally, older students that have spent 20+ years in the workforce might think their age is a disadvantage, but that is far from the truth. You should avoid using your age as an excuse to procrastinate in the exam or give up hope.

A significant study a few years ago showed that seniors who actively took measures to keep their body and mind healthy performed better on a memory test than those in their twenties and thirties.

Additionally, they were able to use that information 30% more effectively in decision-making than the youngsters, which is an essential skill for the PE Power and FE Electrical Exam.

Therefore, you must not underestimate yourself and remain positive throughout; after all, a positive mindset helps increase memory retention and improve the overall quality of life.

Conclusion

Now that you have gone through our list of the 8 ways to improve retention for FE and PE exams, you should take all these steps and make them a part of your daily study routine.

These methods of improving memory and retention are not that challenging to adapt. Still, they are also self-disciplined, meaning you will only depend on yourself to incorporate them in this process.

So, what are you waiting for? First, start following these methods, one day at a time to see a change and improvement in your retention abilities. Then, with a positive mindset, you will ace the preparation phase for the FE or PE exam and clear it.

wasim-smal
Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.