My friend and I memorize using the page-by-page method (see HD 14 for more details), and she advised me with the following, but it works for other methods of memorizing as well.
I used to recite the page about 15 times before committing it to memory. Then I would recite it about 5 more times without looking at the page. This would total ~20 reps. If I came back to the page a day later, I could recite it by heart after 15 minutes of review. This made me realize that I needed 15 more minutes of Memorization time. Then my friend mentioned that she was advised to do more reps when memorizing. She told me to do 50/100 reps of a page. It is a goal I am slowly working towards inshaAllah, so here is how it is going so far:
Now I do at least 26 reps for almost every page. It’s only 6 more reps, but it has made so much of a difference. When I come back to it days later, it is easy to recall to memory. On top of this, I don’t move my eyes from the page for many of these reps, especially the beginning ones [before I can recite it without looking] and the ones at the end [after I can recite it without looking]. Sometimes, out of habit, I begin to move my eyes away and fill in the blanks from my memory, but staring at the page while reciting has been better so far because this way, you will commit a picture of the page to memory, as well. Before this, I always had a vague picture of what the page looked like, but now with the constant looking, it has not only made the picture clearer but the picture lasts for a long time. I came back to a page once, (maybe after a week without review), and without looking at it I was able to recite almost the entire thing without mistakes because I remembered what the page looked like. Whenever my tongue was approaching the end of an ayah, my mind would show me the first few words of the next ayah.
In short, just increase the reps (whatever else you need to do can most likely wait 15 minutes). It is better to let the ayaat become ingrained in the beginning, rather than letting them sit on top of your minds like a piece of paper that is blown away by the slightest of winds.
Pinning it down in the beginning will provide the following benefits:
1. Confidence. It will increase you in confidence and make it easier for you to memorize subsequent pages. When your mind knows that everything you have memorized before is very murky, this lowers your morale.
2. Review Time. It will save you time on review.
3. Salah. It will make it easier for you to recite these ayaat in Salah. I have a theory that many memorizers of Qur’an still recite the same few verses or short surahs in their salawaat, because they don’t feel confident enough to recite anything else, although they may have many ajzaa’ of the Qur’an memorized. If we don’t benefit from Qur’an in our Salah, where else are we expecting to benefit from it?
4. Sincerity. It will make you feel better about your hifdh in general because the murky memorization does seem to have some insincerity associated with it, waAllahu Alam. But think about it, isn’t there something wrong with jumping to the next page when you know full well that you have almost forgotten the page before that? Let’s not turn Hifdh into a simple numbers game.
“Looking at the page”
This simply means keeping your eyes fixed on the page and on every word while you are reciting it aloud and doing your reps. It also helps to use a pen or your finger to point. If this is what you already do, keep it up. I didn’t — I used to purposely look away [often] to see if I could fill in the blanks. Even though I could, I never really got a solid picture of the page. Shaykh Fahd al Kendari (see HD 12 Traveler with Qur’an) recommends the following:
After you have memorized the page, recite it 15 more times while staring at the page. It will become glued to your mind and you’ll never forget it inshaAllah.
Also, by keeping your gaze fixed on the page and/or following along with a pointer, you are incorporating more senses (hearing and seeing), and this is supposed to be better for learning.
“All the reps in one sitting?”
I hardly ever memorize a page in ‘one sitting’ if this means that I sit and don’t get up. I memorize with the Pomodoro technique (see HD 14), so I recite for 15 minutes, take a break, and then recite again and so on. I may do my complete reps over a day or two, or more depending on how pressed I am for time and other factors. Even when I’ve done it all within a day, however, I did get up during the process and take a break when I felt like I needed it. Then I went back to doing the reps until I memorized the page.
Another technique that is really helpful is reciting the page 10 times shortly before bed. I noticed that when I do this, it is super easy to memorize that page the next day alhamdulillah.