How To Study (A Starting Guide): An Evidence-Based Framework You Should Practice
Improve and expand upon your old studying process
Whether you are student studying law, medicine, engineering, or any other subject, most of the time, like everyone else, you will have to face exams. Is it ever common to think " How will I even retain this storehouse of information inside my head?". It really is quite understandable to not have clarity in tackling studying, seeing that there isn't an obvious answer straight ahead, even though most us goes through this. Everyone will often tell you to "study hard", but that is just ambiguous. They will share random untrue study tips from social media like facebook and instagram. I get so frustrated seeing people sharing false information of studying: "Spending more time studying will yield better grades" "Studying takes a lot of time" "I study better under pressure and at the last minute". Even in colleges, this happens.
The problem is that "how to study" isn't so clear cut.
I am going discuss evidence-based studies about studying that you should practice. Then I will share resources, that I found useful, to use to apply with those evidence-based studying techniques. Bear in mind that the methods used aren't supposed to strictly followed in a particular way, you can use the method in other ways. All that matters is that the idea of the concepts is being done. Do that, and you're fine.
On a side note, this is an article I that wish I have read long before as a student.
Learning Fresh Content
- Understand first, then memorize
When you are studying the content for the first, you will need to understand it first. A way for me to see if I understood the information is to teach it. You can imagine you are teaching to someone, or if you have a friend or classmate, try teaching it to them. This has been proven to show you understood the information you just learned.
2. Scope the Subject
Scope the subject and see what relates to what, to understand it as a cohesive whole. Therefore when you going to study and understand it for the first time, your brain is already primed up. And consuming information won’t be as difficult (if I didn’t scan through the lessons).
Look at the forest, not the trees.
It is simply defined as testing ourselves on the information. Getting information out of your brain. This is how to best retain information. It is as simple as remembering what you have learned. This is in contrast to , for example, passive reviewing, in which the material is learned passively (by reading, watching, etc.)
Teaching is one way of active recall. Because when you are teaching, it compels you to retrieve what you have previously studied (A study in Applied Cognitive Psychology by a researcher Aloysius Wei Lun Koh).
After understanding my lessons, I like to write out spider-diagrams blindly. Without looking at my notes. I use this to organize my lessons in my mind. It is a good tool to use to see and learn the subject from the big picture.
They are a bunch of ways to actively recall something, sometimes it just boils to how you prefer to do it.
What is it? Space repetition, as the name suggest, where you space your repetition of particular subjects, over a period of time. It is in contrast to Cramming, which is a very popular revision strategy. But as we all know, when cram for a test for the next day – we will forget most of it because it is only stored in our short term memory. It is simply not ideal. Space repetition yields better results that are easier.
The Forgetting Curve (by the a psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus) is the reason why this works. Have you ever revised a topic, then a week late, forget all of it? Then think "what was the point that?". Thats the forgetting Curve, it is the idea that, over time, you will forget information you've learned. To use this in our advantage, we need to interrupt the point in which we forget something – by remembering. We need to actively recall, at certain intervals of time. Doing this will help you remember your stuff with ease. Next time you know it, you will have more time for yourself and yet at the same excel your studies.
Here is a graph to visually understand this better:
The aforementioned in practice
I use flashcard to memorize blocks of content (facts) that I need to know.
For me, I use an app called Anki. Anki is a flashcard program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.
The idea behind that, is that you make a flashcard and it comes up in your practice session. Another cool thing that I can do with this is, once a flash card comes up, you can mark it as being easy, medium, or hard. And depending on what rating you gave it, it comes up later on depending on what that rating was.
Cornell Note Taking System
It is simple as turning you notes into questions. I have a friend who wrote only questions in his notes, and then answered all of them when revising. He went to become the top in his class. Why this works is because the brains retains and answer betters when being questioned
Here are some great Resources you could check out
- Anki App Download https://apps.ankiweb.net
- 6 steps to make good Anki Card https://medshamim.com/med/make-high-yield-anki-cards
- Notion; the best note app I found to store your notes https://www.notion.so/desktop
That is all! Remember that these studying tips isn't as daunting as you think it is. And remember that studying is quite enjoyable.
A decent part of the research here were compiled by Ali Abdaal, and I would like to thank him for that, for doing the hard work for us. I recommend visiting his channel for more topics similar to this.
Sources and Citations
- Di Sano, S. (2018, August 20). What is active recall and how effective is it? Retrieved December 29, 2020, from https://getatomi.com/blog/what-is-active-recall-and-how-effective-is-it/
- Jeshoots.com. (2018, January 21). Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash. Retrieved December 29, 2020, from https://unsplash.com/photos/-2vD8lIhdnw
- Powerful, intelligent flashcards. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2020, from https://apps.ankiweb.net/
- Odendaal, A. (2019, July 26). 10 Myths Everyone Believes about Studying. Retrieved December 29, 2020, from https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/blog/10-myths-everyone-believes-about-studying/
- Jarrett, C. (2018, May 04). Learning by teaching others is extremely effective — a new study tested a key reason why. Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/05/04/learning-by-teaching-others-is-extremely-effective-a-new-study-tested-a-key-reason-why/
- Frank, T. (2020, July 17). How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition. Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://collegeinfogeek.com/spaced-repetition-memory-technique/