Psychological research shows we consistently underestimate our mental powers.
If you think this does not apply to you, then here is a simple test to show you're wrong.
Write down the names of all the American states you can remember.
Put the list away, and then set yourself the same task a week later.
Provided you have not cheated by consulting an atlas, you will notice something rather surprising.
The two lists will contain roughly the same number of states, but they will not be identical.
Some names will have slipped away, but others will have replaced them.
This suggests that somewhere in your mind you may well have a record of virtually every state.
So it is not really your memory letting you down, just your ability to retrieve information from it.
We would remember a lot more if we had more confidence in your memories and knew how to use them properly.
One useful tip is that things are more likely to be remembered if you are in exactly the same state and place as you were when you learn them.
So if you are a student who always reviews over black coffee, perhaps it would be sensible to prime yourself with a cup before the exam.
If possible, you should also try to learn information in the room where it is going to be tested.
When you learn is also important.
Lots of people swear they can absorb new information more efficiently at some times of the day than at others.
Research shows this is not just imagination.
There is a biological rhythm for learning.
Though it affects different people in different ways, for most of us the best plan is to take in new information in the morning,
and then try to consolidate it into memory during the afternoon.
But this does not apply to everyone, so it is essential to establish your own rhythm.
You can do this by learning a set number of lines of poetry at different times of the day, and see when most lines stick.
When you have done this, try to organize your life
so that the time set aside for learning coincides with the time when your memory is at its best.
Avoid learning marathons. They do not make the best use of your mind.
Take plenty of breaks, because they offer a double bonus.
The time off gives your mind a chance to do some preliminary consolidation, and it also gives a memory boost to the learning.
Questions 19 to 22 are based on the recording you have just heard.
Question 19: What does the simple test suggest?
Question 20: What do we learn about the two lists in the test?
Question 21: What does the speaker suggest about preparing for and taking an exam?
Question 22: What tip does the speaker give on learning?