10 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Study And Learn Better
You may have heard or read about millions of ways to improve your study habits or learn better, but have you ever gone into the science of it? Well, lots of researches and studies have shown a set of scientifically-backed tips that can provenly help you enhance your learning capabilities. Science has been working hard and has found ways to help you get the most out of your study time, all backed by hefty research. To help you out with your study habits, especially since the 10th and 12th board exams are inching closer, here are the best tips that will help you learn better, thanks to scientific studies!
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So let’s just jump right into the top 10 tips you need to know to scientifically improve your learning capabilities.
Taking a short break after every hour of learning is better than working straight through as it improves your ability to focus on a particular task without being distracted. Research has found that the greatest improvement comes following 15 minutes of moderate activity (jogging, a brisk walk, dribbling a ball) but the improvement was also shown following vigorous activity (running, jumping, skipping) or a passive break (such as listening to music or watching funny YouTube clips – because for sure that’s why they were invented). Memory is strongest for the things learned immediately before and after a break so keep those times for the tough stuff.
Sleep Well, Don’t Pull Off All-Nighters
If you study at night and feel that this might be a better option for you, science advises otherwise. All-nighters will mess with your ability to remember and process information. Sleep prepares your brain for learning, so pulling an all-nighter can cut your capacity to learn new things by up to 40% – and that’s not the only problem. Research has shown that it can take up to four days for your brain to return to normal after you’ve been awake all night.
Furthermore, the power of sleep is miraculous. Deep sleep causes physical changes in the brain. When you learn something, your brain cells grow new connections that reach out and connect to other brain cells. This strengthens the pathways in your brain around whatever it is your learning. Sleeping after learning encourages memories of the information to be wired into your brain, so it’s less likely to fade.
Exercising every day is of utmost importance. When you exercise, your blood chemistry changes and your brain becomes the very happy recipient of important nutrients. It repays the favor by amping up its performance – specifically memory, attention, information processing, and problem-solving. Exercise increases the levels of a crucial brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is important for the growth of brain cells, mood, and learning. It also releases a powerful cocktail of important hormones including serotonin (the mood booster), dopamine (for learning and attention), and norepinephrine (for awareness, attention, and concentration).
So just get to it for at least 20-30 minutes a day. Anything that increases your heart rate will do the trick – running, bike-riding, walking, kicking a ball, or turning up the beats and dancing it out.
Space It Out
Research shows it’s a bad idea to cram all your studying into that day. Instead, space out those study sessions. In one 2009 experiment, college students studied vocabulary words with flashcards. Some students studied all the words in spaced-apart sessions throughout four days. Others studied smaller batches of the words in crammed, or massed, sessions, each over a single day. Both groups spent the same amount of time overall. But testing showed that the first group learned the words better.
Allow time between study sessions, and some of the material may drip out of your memory. But then you’ll be able to relearn it and learn more in your next study session. And you’ll remember it better, next time.
Keep Taking Tests
Testing yourself will force you to remember information. Every time you remember something, the information becomes a little more enduring. Testing yourself might also help to take the fire out of test anxiety, in the same way, that exposure to any feared object eventually makes that object less frightening. Testing yourself on the material you’ve learned is more effective than reading the material over and over. Re-reading material might get you thinking that you’re familiar with the material, but until you try to retrieve that material from memory, you won’t actually know how well you know it or where the gaps in your knowledge are.
Re-reading your notes may seem like a good idea, but it can be detrimental as it draws your attention to less important information. It also fails to link concepts together and improve your understanding of the topic. Flashcards, on the other hand, engage “active recall” by remembering the concept from scratch. When you reveal the answer side of a flashcard to assess whether or not you are correct, you self-reflect – an act known as metacognition. Research shows that applying metacognition ingrains memories deeper into your knowledge.
Active recall has been shown to create stronger neuron connections for that memory trace. And because flashcards can so easily facilitate repetition, they are the best way to create multiple memory-enhancing recall events. Some research has found that this kind of active recall retrieval practice leads to 150% better retention than passive studying.
Listen To Music
Nope, this is not a joke. Ever heard of the “Mozart Effect”? It is the popular idea that listening to Mozart makes you smarter –and that just about any classical music can have the same effect. The key is to choose music that’s different from your preferred style and music that plays constantly in the state. Choose neutral music with a repetitive pulse and don’t play it too loud. According to reports, the Mozart Effect research itself was interested in the relation between Mozart and ‘spatial-temporal reasoning’, or knowing how to fit things into other things, basically. The idea that music – particularly classical – can improve exam results has endured, with websites such mozarteffect.com selling music supposedly designed to “charge the brain.” Subjects tested in environments with background music were found to get better results than those tested against background noise.
Mix It Up
Research shows that it is better to Study multiple subjects each day, rather than focusing on just one or two subjects. For example, if you’re preparing for exams in math, history, physics, and chemistry, it’s better to study a bit of each subject every day. This approach will help you to learn faster than by focusing on just math on Monday, history on Tuesday, physics on Wednesday, chemistry on Thursday, and so on. Why? Because you’re likely to confuse similar information if you study a lot of the same subject in one day. So as a tip to learn faster, spread out your study time for each subject. In so doing, your brain will have more time to consolidate your learning.
If you think you can do it all, you can’t. According to research-based data i: Multitasking makes you less productive, more distracted, and dumber. The studies even show that people who claim to be good at multitasking aren’t actually better at it than the average person. Effective students focus on just one thing at a time. So don’t try to study while also intermittently replying to text messages, watching TV, and checking your Twitter feed.
Here are some suggestions to improve your concentration:
- Turn off notifications on your phone
- Put your phone away, or turn it to airplane mode
- Log out of all instant messaging programs
- Turn off the Internet access on your computer
- Close all of your Internet browser windows that aren’t related to the assignment you’re working on
- Clear the clutter from your study area
Focus On The Process
Lastly, pull your focus towards the process and not the outcome. Research suggests that students who succeed in school concentrate on learning the information, not on trying to get a certain grade. These students:
- Focus on effort, not the end result
- Focus on the process, not on achievement
- Believe they can improve – even in their weak subjects – as long as they put in the time and hard work
- Embrace challenges
- Define success as pushing themselves to learn something new, not as getting straight A’s
On the other hand, not-so-successful students tend to set performance goals, while successful students tend to set learning goals.
These are the absolute best tips science has given you to study a lot better! For more such informative and helpful content, visit our website and browse through our unique blogs to get all the help you need!