A Few Quick Tips to Help You Become a Learning Machine
Exam Is On It's Way - Take It Easy
When you are a typical college student who has a lot of material to learn before an exam, it can be overwhelming when you think about the test approaching at fast pace. In these moments, you feel like you don’t know how to learn. Whether it’s the fact that you can’t get in the mood for studying, or you just get easily distracted by the things around you, there is always something that can put a dent in your flow and prevent you from learning. Here are some quick tips that can help you learn your information faster:
- Breaking your study sessions into smaller sessions
Your brain’s ability to keep the information lowers once you reach minute 30, so if you decide to continue studying while ignoring this state, you will only be shovelling against the tide. You will end up staring at random pages, without actually retaining any information from them. There is a saying that goes “things that are reinforced, we tend to do more of while things that are punished or ignored, we tend to do less of”. In the first 30 minutes, you are very alert and ready to learn the new information, but once you start to slide, you will get a feeling of antagonism for what you’re studying and won’t be able to retain the information.
But there’s a good way to prevent this. Take a quick 5-minute break every 25-30 minutes to “restart” your brain. Do something fun, like listening to a song, drinking a cup of water or coffee, calling a friend – anything that can help you relax. It’s going to be much easier to retain the information afterwards.
- Have a study area specially designed for this purpose
How many of you have an actual study place in your house? Unfortunately, not many, and this is why many try to study in their bedroom, living room – areas that are dedicated to other activities. Bedrooms are meant for sleeping while living rooms are meant for relaxing. You can easily get distracted by the sleepiness that naturally occurs when you’re studying in your bed, or you can also get distracted by the food in the fridge if you’re studying in the kitchen. This is why it is recommended to create a study area where the only thing you will do is… study. If you don’t have such a place, put your desk in such a way that you’re with your back towards the bed, and stay away from temptations like video games, computers, the TV and even the fridge. That way, you will train your body to get into “learning mode” once you sit in that area.
- If you can teach what you’ve learned, you’re ready
Information holds better if you can repeat what you’ve learned in front of other people. Teach what you’ve learned to any person residing in your home: your mom, your dad, your sibling. If you can make them understand what you’ve just learned, you’ve been successful in studying that chunk of information.
- Learn the concept, not the fact
The fact is the piece of information you get from your studying while the concept is the understanding you get from that certain fact. It does not matter if you choose different words if the concept is basically the same. If you can express that fact in your own words, then you are definitely on the right path in your studies. Learn to assign meaning to what you are learning, and understand what you are studying rather than learn it word by word.
- Know what the difference is between recollection and recognition
There’s a very fine line between recognition and recollecting. Saying you remember something when having a textbook in front of you is not remembering – it’s recognizing. Recollecting is what’s actually needed for successful studying. Look at a page, learn it, turn the page and read the next, and afterwards return to the page you’ve previously learned – if you can say what the page was about while not looking at the text, you’ve successfully remembered.
- Continuously take notes
You can learn faster by writing out the information while you are studying. If you are in a lecture, take continuous notes to increase your chances to remember what you’re studying. By doing that, you can also use them after class to study and expand their meaning when you look them up. If you do not take the notes, you are most likely to forget the information as soon as you step out of the lecture.
- Be effective when you are reading your textbooks and notes
Sometimes, just reading the information is not enough; you will have to use different study methods to get things done. The most efficient method is SQ3R, which means survey, question, read, recite and review. This way, you will have better chances of remembering what you’ve just read.
Studying is never an easy task for any student, especially if you have to do it for a longer time throughout the day. You can study less by studying smart.