How to learn faster, memorize information and improve your study habits
Has it ever happened to you that you want to study a new topic, learn a new skill, or memorize important information, and no matter how hard you try, you forget everything and you can’t see significant progress? The new educational resources need improvement of the learning process.
Or maybe you have a lecture or test to take and you can’t focus to study effectively.
Whatever your case, the steps that we are going to share with you below will help you improve your study habits and practice effectively, so that you can learn more quickly and master whatever skills you are trying to develop.
Every time we have the need to learn more quickly and effectively to adapt to the changing environment in which we live.
But you don’t have to have superhuman abilities in order to develop the ability to learn fast. In many cases, just a few small changes to your learning process are enough to achieve noticeable results.
The secret, according to some educational trends, is not to wear yourself out studying or practicing a skill repeatedly for many hours; but be smart in the way you practice. One of the approaches that have been studied is to intersperse new topics with existing knowledge, in order to obtain variety and accelerate the learning process.
For example, two groups of math students were analyzed, one of them used a traditional method where each topic was thoroughly explored and then progressed through the syllabus. The second group used the interleaving method, where they combined new concepts, while continuing to review what they had already studied. In this experiment, it was found that the group that used the interleaving method obtained an average 25% better score on the exam. But not only that, a month later they were given a second exam and the second group did it 76% better than the first, which shows that this technique also helps to better retain learning in the medium term.
This approach, along with the steps that we will explain below, can be applied to any area of your life where you need to develop your knowledge and skills.
1. Prepare a suitable environment for learning.
You can study and learn more efficiently if you work in a comfortable space without distractions. You can put a desk or table in a quiet place in your house that you dedicate specifically to reading, reviewing notes, studying, writing or practicing a new skill. Let other people in your house know that you are studying when you are there so that they do not interrupt you. And if you consider that your home is not a good option, you can go to a nearby library or cafeteria.
The important thing is that you have everything you need for learning on hand, such as books, notebooks, computer, water, etc. And if you are tempted to check your phone frequently, it may be best to leave it out of your workspace.
2. Optimize your body and your brain.
Many times there is nothing wrong with you or the way you learn. Maybe your brain can’t retain the information because your body isn’t getting something it needs.
One of the most common needs is sleep. You will have to make sure you get enough sleep, around seven to eight hours if you want your brain to be alert to absorb the information. Having an extra cup of coffee does not replace rest. You may find it better to stop doing those late-night study sessions and better go to bed early, get enough sleep, and then get up early to study with a fresh mind.
3. Define your objective and organize your information.
What are the specific skills and knowledge you want to acquire? What is your goal when studying?
Find a clear goal that you can achieve in the short term once you start the habit of learning. After you define it, you will need to choose a teacher or a trusted source of information. What books are you going to take as a reference? Are you going to research on the subject on the Internet? What trusted websites are you going to consult? What YouTube channels can offer you updated and easy-to-apply tutorials?
Try to combine written information with audiobooks, podcasts, and video tutorials. Just be sure to check the relevant information on different sites that are backed by scientific studies.
As you collect data, it is important that you define a specific area in which you want to focus your study topic.
4. Identify your learning style.
What if a mind map doesn’t work that much for you because more than visual, you are an auditory person? In this case, it may be a better idea to record your lectures on audio and then listen to them several times.
We don’t all learn in the same way. So by identifying your learning style, you can find the techniques that work best to help you retain information.
Auditory learners capture information by listening to lectures, podcasts, discussion groups, and explanatory videos.
Visual learners acquire new learning by viewing graphs, diagrams, pictures, movies, and written material.
Kinesthetic students learn best by actively participating in an activity, such as a science lab, discussion group, or hands-on workshop; or simply by following a tutorial on the Internet while performing each of the steps.
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5. Exercise your brain to improve your memory and concentration.
A large body of research has shown that brain exercises help maintain mental alertness, improve memory, develop focus and help keep the brain healthy, regardless of age.
One of the most practical ways to exercise your brain that you can do every day is to solve puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles or riddles. Doing puzzles has been shown to require multiple cognitive skills and is a protective factor against aging of the brain. No matter the number of pieces, you can start with a simple puzzle depending on your time and skill level.
6. Pay more attention.
An easy way to learn faster is to make sure you are really paying attention when someone explains a topic to you, when you watch a tutorial, or when you try something new for the first time. Even the slightest interruption of your attention can cause you to not assimilate the information correctly. Try to listen with the idea that you will have to immediately answer a question on the subject. In fact, repeating the information to yourself, in your own words, can help anchor the information in your brain.
Taking notes is another strategy that forces you to think about the material you are learning and to stay focused while organizing your ideas. In addition, having the appropriate notes gives you the opportunity to review what you have learned. You can try writing a general outline of the topic with the big picture, and adding some specific information and keywords. Pay attention to the details and write down the main facts and any relevant facts that you want to refer to later.
7. Study effectively and create connections.
Reviewing your notes each day for at least 10 minutes will help you retain the information you are trying to assimilate. But this process doesn’t have to be repetitive and boring. A good idea is to review old information at the same time that you study something new. In this way you can experience the thrill of acquiring new information, while reaffirming your previous knowledge. Also, when you come across a new concept that you want to assimilate, you can create a connection with some kind of related information that you have learned before.
Try to engage several of your senses to study in a more dynamic way. For example, you can take notes written on paper, then read them and record your voice in audio to listen to them while you move from one place to another. Relate the different concepts with some aroma or physical place. Try to transform written information or lists into images, like a graph or a map.
8. Use mnemonic techniques to memorize data.
Mnemonics can help you learn specific data more quickly or an ordered list using phrases or simple words that allow you to memorize certain information.
One of the most common examples is the creation of acronyms, which are words formed by the initial letters of some phrase or set of words. If you need to remember a set of numbers, divide them into sections of three numbers each and it will be easier for you to memorize the sequence. You can also bring complicated information to mind by organizing the information into rhyming sentences that are easy to learn.
One technique that the Greeks used to prepare exhibitions and remember what to say is the loci technique. This technique consists of imagining a tour of some physical place that you know very well, such as your house, and associating the different sections and rooms with the ordered concepts that you want to memorize. In this way, in your mind you can take a tour of each place, and thus remember each of the points to be discussed.