At Brainscape, we’ve covered lots of basic studying tips in the past, but what about more advanced students? We know that many of you have already mastered the basics of productivity, so now we’re looking at more advanced methods – techniques that are used less often, rarely written about, or take more dedication to implement. Enter Adaptive learning.
Whether or not you are already using Brainscape’s online flashcards tool to optimize your studies, we think you’ll enjoy these tips for effective studying.
8 Advanced Study Tips for Serious Students
1. Study in Chunks
Research shows clearly that most people are only able to focus for short chunks of time, usually between 20 and 40 minutes or so. Therefore, to get the best bang for your buck, avoid studying or working in mega-sessions that last many hours without a break. Instead, experts recommend studying in short chunks, which can be broken up by taking small 5 minute breaks in between. Different people have different optimal time periods, so experiment with this method to find your ideal focal length.
2. Pinpoint Your Problem Areas
If you’re having trouble learning a new concept, try to narrow down the problem. It’s not useful to just say, “I don’t understand this.” Instead, break down the problem and look at each part, then isolate the section you’re not understanding. This will allow you to find help much more easily, and will also improve your skills at identifying difficulties — which can help you anticipate and prepare for them in the future.
3. Make a Dedicated Study Space
Instead of studying wherever you hang out, it’s best to create a dedicated location in your home for studying and getting work done. Whenever you’re in this location, try to study hard. If you get distracted or need a break, get up and go somewhere else. This will begin to create a conditioned response in your brain, so that when you sit down in your spot, your brain begins to immediately focus.
4. Study Actively
The ability to passively recall information isn’t a good substitute for real knowledge and understanding. That’s why multiple choice tests are easier than (and not as reflective of student knowledge as) free-response tests. To harness this, make sure to practice “active studying.” Don’t just regurgitate information in the format you first learned it. Instead, rearrange the content and find new ways of explaining the relationships between concepts. It’ll be a big boost to your ability to recall information.
5. Take Smart Notes (and Review)
Taking notes is an integral part of studying. For best success, you need to review your notes the right way. After class, you should review what you wrote down during the lecture — then expand on those notes based on what you remember but didn’t write down. Do this as soon as possible after the class to solidify knowledge in your brain.
6. Use Spaced Repetition
The best way to retain information is to study it again and again. Seems simple, right? The trick is that for maximum efficiency, it’s best to study that information again only when you’re on the verge of forgetting it. New software programs are available to help automate this process. Brainscape uses a more advanced form of this method called confidence-based repetition: the flashcards you’re least confident on will appear more readily, while those you’ve mastered will only show up when you need a quick review to cement something in long-term memory.
7. Summarize What You Learn
Master learners know that to truly understand a subject, you have to be able to teach it. If you can’t regurgitate the information in a simple and understandable way, then you probably haven’t mastered it. You can use this method to identify problem areas and strengthen your learning even when you’re alone by recording yourself or speaking out loud as if you’re teaching whatever subject you’re studying.
Last but not least, one of the most powerful methods for effective studying is mnemonics. We’ve written about these methods in the past, so you can head on over to that blog post to learn more about how to use mnemonics for learning.
Did any of these methods help you? How so? What other advanced study tips do you use that we didn’t include on this list? Let us know in the comments!
Brainscape is a web & mobile education platform that
helps you learn anything faster, using cognitive science. Join the
millions of students, teachers, language learners, test-takers, and
corporate trainees who are doubling their learning results. Visit
brainscape.com or find us on the App Store