Advanced Study Skills from the Pros
Sometimes the best way to learn is to forget. According to researchers, this is especially true when it comes to studying. In fact, some studies are saying that the majority of the traditional approaches to studying are WRONG.
Want to study effectively? Forget what you know.
So what’s right and what’s wrong? Well, according to Psychology Today and the director of the UCLA Learning and Forgetting Lab, here’s what you DON’T want to do when studying:
1. DON’T LEARN IN BLOCKS—Don’t study math, then English, then science. In one study or homework session, mix up what you are learning. Rather than mastering one skill before the next, take small steps in many skills. The theory is known as interleaving, and apparently the small progression in many skills approach leads to memories that are remembered much longer than the one-thing-at-a-time approach. That’s because each skill is learned in relation to the others. That doesn’t mean jumping from math to science to English—it means working on different skills that are related within a subject. So don’t burn out on quadratic equations by doing them over and over. Mix it up!
2. DON’T STUDY IN THE SAME PLACE—turns out that WHERE you study is as important as HOW, and the MORE places that you study, the better. That’s because the background information of what you see and hear as you are studying gets remembered as well. So if you study in the same place all the time, there’s nothing to make what you are studying stand out from all the other studied material.
3. FORGET IT… ALMOST. This technique has been researched many times. It’s known as the Spacing Effect and it says that to make studying effective you need to study, almost forget, and then re-study. The point is to make the brain work to remember what was studied in the last session. The harder the brain is challenged to recall, the better. So, don’t schedule a second study session too early on—that’s too easy. The brain has to be challenged to remember.
4. WRITE IT DOWN, BUT NOT IN CLASS. According to the article, the point of note taking is to challenge the brain to remember, so take notes AFTER class. This is a tad impractical while in school, but highlights the importance of review. Try writing a class summary after each class without consulting in-class notes. You don’t need to know word for word–just try to recall the highlights.