There are many ways to optimize the time spent studying. In recent years, scientists have demonstrated how a few simple techniques can maximize learning, as much for children in primary school as for adults wishing to learn a new language.
Tip #1: Change rooms
For example, instead of always studying in the same place, several studies have found that alternating rooms promotes retention.
The reason for this is that the brain makes subtle and unconscious associations between what is being studied and the person’s surroundings at the time.
Tip #2: Follow the sets and reps method of strength training
It also appears that studying distinct but related concepts is more productive than focusing on a single element.
For example, learning a new language would be made easier if during a single study session you alternated between vocabulary, reading and speaking.
This technique is also used in other fields, such as sports, where training always involves several distinct segments (e.g. mixing strength, speed and skill drills during a workout).
Tip #3: Opt for shorter and more frequent study sessions
While “cramming” may improve your performance on a given exam, those who have tried it know that it doesn’t usually lead to long-lasting information retention.
Instead of spending three hours studying some geography material in one sitting, you will get better results if you devote one hour to it one night, do the same again a few days later, and do so one last time a week later.
The hypothesis behind this is that when the brain sees material it has seen before, it “solidifies” that part of the information before adding new content.
Tip #4: Use knowledge as power
Quizzes and exam practices are not just a way to test your knowledge – they are also a powerful learning tool. After having accessed information, the brain seems to alter the way it records it in order to make it more accessible in the future. In addition, the harder you have to work to record a piece of information, the harder it will be to forget afterwards.
While there are no guarantees that these techniques will automatically turn all students into scholastic aces, they can help improve information retention. Moreover, they can add variety to the studying routine, which can help students remain motivated.