Anyone who's crammed for a test may have suspected as much, but a new study finds that reading something aloud is the best way to remember it. Researchers at the University of Waterloo tested 95 students over two semesters using four different methods: reading silently, reading aloud, hearing someone else read aloud, and hearing a recording of themselves read aloud, reports Quartz. Reading the information aloud to themselves emerged as the most effective method in the test, which involved trying to remember a list of words. As Mental Floss notes, hearing a recording of themselves also seemed to help, at least more so than hearing another's voice, perhaps because it's so odd to hear ourselves that it becomes what's known as a "salient memory."
The study in the journal Memory builds off what's known as the "production" effect, referring to the repetition of words aloud instead of in silence. "This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement," says study co-author and Waterloo psychology professor Colin M. MacLeod in a news release. "When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable." The researchers say that the findings could help seniors looking to boost their memory. In addition to, say, doing puzzles or crosswords, they might want to mix in some out-loud reading. (Another study suggests that the memories of those with dementia aren't necessarily gone for good.)