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You’re reading this article because you need to learn information and hate the amount of time it takes to do so. Well, you’re not alone. Everyone needs to learn new things, particularly students, and no one wants to spend hours slumped in their room staring miserably at page after page of text.

So we’ve provided some great ways to learn more in less times using some psychology basics. 

These are our top 5 tips for improving the way YOU learn, backed by research.

  1. Elaborative Rehearsal

Do you ever find yourself just reciting a list of information or a definition repetitively without taking any interest in the meaning? We all do. This is called simple or maintenance rehearsal. Since we don’t take any meaning in the words they don’t enter the long-term memory store. Rehearsing information over and over in the working memory is not an effective way to cement it in the long-term memory (Craik and Watkins, 1973).

The elaboration principle states that connecting information with existing knowledge improves memory for it. So, if you rehearse more elaboratively, taking interest of the actual meaning of the information, you are much more likely to remember it (Sharps et al., 1999; Craik and Tulving, 1975). This is also related to the organisation principle, which states that memory operates as a function of how pieces of information are related to each other.

 

  1. Arousal

The Yerkes-Dodson law says that there is an optimal level of arousal for memory efficiency, either side of which memory efficiency reduces (Yerkes and Dodson, 1908). In other words, too little or too much arousal is bad for memory. To achieve this optimum level of arousal, exercise for a while after a revision or learning session – easy as that! You don’t have to do laps and laps, just 15 minutes of exercise is enough.

 

  1. Study with a Friend

Studying with a friend gives you knew insights and new ways to connect concepts, ideas and theories. This leads to the generation of multiple retrieval paths and more routes to the required information during recall. Again, this links to the organisation principle.

Disclaimer – this might not work so well if you’re just going to chill or gossip together…

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  1. Distributed Practice

Studying small amounts regularly is much better than cramming. This is because the rest periods and sleep between studying reduce the amount of information that could interfere with and obscure previously learned information during consolidation.

 

  1. Testing

Replace extra learning sessions with a testing session in order to improve retention. Karpicke and Roediger (2008) found that the amount of information correctly recalled was almost twice as high when an extra learning trial was replaced with a test trial. This is because memory improves when you generate the answer yourself – the generation effect!

Make sure, though, that you are provided with feedback to prevent any errors persisting.

 

There you have it! Use these 5 methods and your studying will become much quicker, easier and more effective. Happy studying!

 

Got Feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line in the comments and we’ll get back to you. 

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