The discipline of study is full of myths, half-truths and often focuses too much on memorizing long passages of text. There are better ways to do it.
Here are some Good Study Tips to improve the way you study and above all understand what rules and patterns are hidden behind the memory and the relationships concept:
Study sessions of 25 minutes
This is one of the most basic but also the most important by the number of times it is ignored. The idea that the best way to learn is spending hours in front of books or notes is so ingrained.
The reality is that the ability to concentrate and therefore learn for humans drops dramatically after 25 minutes, and that the most effective way to learn is to divide the session into small fragments of around 25 minutes.
A good way to implement this technique is to use the Pomodoro method. It is a productivity technique consisting of 25 minutes of maximum concentration to perform a single task without distractions. Only after those 25, we have a break of 5 minutes and then back again. One hour has, therefore, two pomodoros.
Many studies argue that people learn faster because they are able to manage and maintain their concentration for a short period of time.
Learn different techniques of reading: skimming and scanning
Read a textbook and understand, classify and differentiate what is being read is often one of the key tasks when learning anything. The skimming and scanning are two techniques that allow you to take large amounts of text and discuss its contents without having to go line by line.
Skimming is often understood as the eye wandering over the text capturing single words here and there. Although not 100% wrong, there is much more orderly ways to apply this technique. Probably the best is to read the first line of each paragraph only. At the end, although we have no precise knowledge of the content of the text in our head will be a nice mindset of how willing the information and how we can address it for learning.
In scanning you gaze wanders line after line taking a brief idea of what is stated in the text. The trick is, however, take several keywords. So you identify 3 keywords… you have to look and scan the text for them.
So let’s say that the logical first step would be a general skimming to understand what basically you are reading and then scan for key words.
If you can not explain it, you have not understood it
Is popular the saying (mistakenly attributed to Einstein) that if you are not able to explain something to a child under 5 years it is because they do not understand. There is some truth in that. The brain understands and learns concepts completely when it is able to distill their essence.
The best way to apply this is to simulate classes with what we are studying. Collect all information in brief notes, stand up and give a brief lecture of 10 minutes. You will see that often you get stuck or do not know how to explain certain concepts as well as you should. Thus it serves to reinforce the knowledge of what you do know and also identify which parts need improving.
Understand how memory works
Human memory is very complex and it is divided into various types and functions. But it has a common denominator: it works in a very visual way. Patterns and repetitive patterns are also a good way to fix holes in your memory.
The more orderly the information in our notes, therefore the more orderly in our heads, the better we will be able to remember it and above all relate it to other information. The most important part of learning, beyond memory, is to understand how these concepts learned relate to each other.
If we talk about the visual side, there are several known techniques. The most common is to invent a little story with what we learned. Just take the key concepts and create a short story or brief argument with them, no matter how absurd it is. Putting them in order and relating is what makes the specific brain areas involved in memory activate.
Practice is better than the theory
For some reason the more practical part tends to decline over time and in colleges and universities is often put more emphasis on pure and simple memorization. Essays, problem solving, write a short essay, outline or simply order terms in alphabetical order are processes that help both the memory and the relationship of concepts.
Sleeping plays a key role in learning. It is, in fact, the time of day in which neurologically speaking the brain goes to work like crazy and randomly linking concepts, ideas and theories. It is therefore a good idea to briefly review what you have learned five minutes (no more) before sleep and go to bed with fresh ideas in your head.