Are you one to take notes meticulously during lectures? Or study one section of a textbook for a whole hour? Or always go to the same room to study?
Contemporary research on brain psychology and memory retrieval suggests that those may not be the best methods when it comes to learning. Instead, researchers recommend the following tips:
- Interleaving learning: rather than drilling 50 algebra questions, you should solve a few algebra questions, a few graphing questions, and word problems. The key is to identify related skills sets to alternate. In the sports world, using basketball as an example, rather than practicing 50 free throws in one session, you would alternate between sets of free throws, jump shots, and three-pointers.
- Vary your study locations: where you study (your own bedroom) is often not the same place where you will be tested (your classroom). To make information more easily retrievable in places other than your own bedroom, study in three or four different locations. If you can, study in the room where that chemistry test will take place.
- Take notes after class: Instead of frantically trying to record every word your physics teacher or professor says, sit back and listen. After class, try to reconstruct the lecture from memory in your notebook. Forcing yourself to recall information is more effective than merely writing verbatim what is on the whiteboard.