Have you ever heard a student say “I love studying?” That’s next to impossible right? Most of us during school and college days used to get a cold shoulder at the mention of exams. This was purely because we disliked studying rather hated studying so much.

Well, let’s just start with a universal truth that learning never stops. All the world’s leaders and renowned personalities are well read and stay up-to-date with all the information related to their Industry. So even if you have passed your post-grads, don’t have this misconception in mind that learning has stopped. To be a successful professional you have to keep on researching and learning new information and this cannot happen rather this process will become torturous if you do not fall in love with learning itself.

Have you ever wondered why we hated studying so much? Because we were told what to study but not HOW to study in the most effective and smart way. Below are 10 scientifically proven techniques which will make learning a fun experience for you and help you learn and remember more information with less effort.

1. Forgetting Curve, Spacing Effect & Active Recalling :

A study was conducted by a German Psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus. He discovered how much time the human mind takes to forget learned information and how we can best retain them. This theory was explained using the ‘Forgetting Curve’ which explains that after you learn a new information the below sequence is followed in your Brain :

– After 20mins you retain/remember 58%

– After 1 hour you retain 44%

– After 9 hours you retain 36%

– After 1 day you retain 33%

– After 2 day you retain 28%

– After 6 days you retain 26%

– After 31 days you retain 21%

This problem can be tackled using the Spacing Effect along with Active Recalling. Nothing can be learned in one go. Hence, in order for the brain to recall and remember what it has learned you need to revise the information keeping certain gaps in between each session. This can be done following this schedule:

  • 1st revision: immediately after learning the new information
  • 2nd revision: 1 day after the 1st revision
  • 3rd revision: 3 days after the 2nd revision
  • 4th revision: 7 days after the 3rd revision
  • 5th revision: 21 days after the 4th revision
  • 6th revision: 30 days after the 5th revision
  • 7th revision: continue this periodically

The Revision should not be done by only reading or relearning the already known information. Use the Active Recalling technique for this by :

– Testing yourself using Mock tests and by solving Question papers

Teach someone the concepts and clear your own doubtful areas

Write down everything you know about a certain topic and review which points you have missed out

2. Pomodoro Technique

We have always been taught to sit and study for long hours, but studies show that consistently sitting and learning something for a long period of time does not help in learning or remembering more. Thus, to study more effectively we need to take small gaps in between study sessions.

Use this formula :

  • 50 mins study + 10 mins break
  • 25 mins study + 5 mins break
Each study session is called a ‘Pomodoro’ which means ‘Tomato’ in Italian. This time management technique is formulated by Francesco Cirillo who was inspired by the ‘Pomodoro Kitchen Timer’ After every 4 pomodoros take a longer break of 15-30 mins. Each pomodoro was traditionally taken for 25 mins however the same can be done using 50 mins.

Use this break time for :

– Exercise

– Short nap

– Meditation (Deep breathing)

– Cold Shower

BONUS : There are several Apps on Google Play to help you with this. Like this one.

3. Leitner System

This is a system of repetition which helps students to learn things by daily recalling. So it uses the days of the week as a medium of measurement. Let’s say you have to memorize definition of 10 words! Make a list of these words and place it in the everyday box. Each time you get an answer right move it to the next box. Every wrong answer however will cost you and make that word go back into the ‘Everyday box’ irrespective of its position.

There are 5 boxes :

BOX 1 : Everyday – test yourself on the definition of the 10 words. You got 6/10 correct. Move the correct one i.e. the 6 words to box 2. And keep back the 4 wrong words in the Everyday Box.

BOX 2 : Every other day – Test yourself on the 4 words. You got 2/4 correct. So 2 words proceed to Box 3 and the other 2 words go back to Box 1.

BOX 3 : Once a Week

BOX 4 : Once every two weeks

BOX 5 : Last Box (Before the Exam)

The target is to get all of the words in the last box!

4. Mnemonics

These techniques uses previously known information that is already in long term memory and link them to learn something new.

Some Examples are :

– Musical tunes

– Acronyms (VIBGYOR)

– Rhymes

– Models (pie charts, tables, diagrams)

– Imagery (creating a visual picture)

A very common example could be the easiest way to remember the total number of days in every month by using our knuckles.

5. Memory Palace (Method of Loci)

This technique uses an already known sequence for example the rooms in your house or the road from work to home and using it to learn a list in a particular order.

So for Example :
You learn or know a certain sequence to the rooms of your house which goes like this – Entry, Living Room, Kitchen, Bathroom, Room 1, Room 2, Balcony.

Seven places in total which goes in this particular order. Now when you have to remember a list, facts or figures we will use these places to help us recollect them.
Let’s say we have to memorize the colours of the Rainbow. We have to associate each colour with each room in a funny and creative way.

Here it goes :

I enter my home through a RED door and sit on the sofa in my living area. The sofa is a brand new ORANGE coloured one which I just got from a sale. I’m feeling hungry so I enter the kitchen and open the fridge to see a YELLOW box of chocolates lying there for me. I love chocolates and get myself a handful of them. Now it’s time to freshen up and so I grab my GREEN towel and enter the Bathroom. After a nice warm bath, I notice that my phone is running low on charge and I rush to my room which has been recently painted bright BLUE. I kept my phone on charge and go to the other room to check on my Mom. I see my mom sitting on the bed and reading a magazine which has a picture of an INDIGO coloured Shirt. I like the shirt and ask her to buy it for me, but she argues and says that I have one of the same colour which is drying in the balcony. We both step out into the balcony to find that the other shirt’s colour is VIOLET.

Using this method it’s very easy for me to remember the colours in the proper sequence as I have made a complete story out of it. The hack is to image yourself walking from room to room and visualizing that object, figure or number so your brain finds it easy to recollect.

6. Chunking

This method is used by dividing large amounts of information into smaller bits

– Mobile numbers
For Ex : 943332099
Easiest way to chunk this : 94 – triple 3 – 20 – double 9

– Identify patterns and categorize them
For Ex a grocery list : fruits, breakfast items, vegetables, non-veg

A common example of chunking is the menu we get in restaurants where all the dishes are divided into categories like : starters, main course, cocktail, mocktail etc

7. Fenyman Notebook Method

The main concept of this method is to enable you to understand any complex topic and explain it in the most effortless way. Steps to Follow : – Study Topic – Make Notes in your own simple language – Identify any doubtful areas & simplify them – Teach someone & Explain the concept in the simplest way

8. Self Referencing & Exposure Effect

This method, helps you remember specific information, as it transfers the information from working memory to long term memory. Remember, the Working memory can only hold 7+-2 pieces of information at a time. So every time you feed your brain with new information, some already existing information is replaced. This method uses picture, visions and feelings to learn new information by connecting the new information to the already existing long term memory. The Best way to use this is by using a story concept where you use a past incident which may involve names of places, people and things and use them as reminders for new items. Be as creative as possible! The older and closer to your heart the memory is, the easier it will be to remember this new learning.

This method can be used with the Exposure Effect :

The Exposure effect is the simple theory that our mind tends to remember more of what we see on a daily basis or what we are exposed to the most. So now most of us when we want a soft drink, do not say we want a soft drink but use the name of the brand like Thumbs Up or Coca Cola. Just like we use the term Xerox and not photocopy or print. Many people don’t even know that Xerox is actually the name of the company.

9. Examples

Another easy and effective way to remember and understand any concept is to use examples. Once, you can recollect the example used, the concept can be written down using your own language.

10. SQ3R Technique

This is a Reading and Remembering strategy. Using this technique while learning something new helps retain more information for a longer period of time.

Survey – Step 1 is to have an overview of the Topic. Read through lightly just to understand what the subject is about before getting into the details.

Question – Step 2 is to note down all the questions you may have had during Step 1. An easy way to do this is to turn the Headings and Sub-headings into questions.

Read – Step 3 enables you to answer the questions you have written by going through and reading the text. Study finds that learning done using Question & Answer format helps the brain to remember better.

Recite – Remember as children we were always told to read out loud? Well, studies prove that listening to your own voice while reading helps the brain to keep focus and turns the information into long-term memory. So Step 4 is to recite i.e. Read out Loud what you have learnt.

Revise – Step 5 is to revise your notes. Mark important parts, highlight keywords and add additional notes wherever necessary.

The above 10 techniques have been backed up by science and used by people for decades. It is always advisable to try these and understand what works best for you. You may have realised while going through the list that some of the methods have been tried by you or someone you know in the past unknowingly and had worked. Just like different problems require different solutions, you may use a combination of these hacks to solve and learn various subjects.

Remember, the Goal is to Learn Smart and Learn Fast.

 

“I Appreciate Your Time”

Sonali The Endless River

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