Study Tips: Science Backed Ways to Study Effectively
So you’ve set up your ideal study space, perfected your time management with a study timetable and composed a perfect playlist for ‘background music’, yet when you sit down at your desk, you still can’t seem to focus and actually get some hard work done during your allocated ‘study time’.
You give up and start scrolling through social media, even though its exam time, and you have a stack of what seems like all your English course material to deal with. We’ve all been there. But if you’re here it means you want to really crack down, learn good study habits, and get those good marks that you have been working for. We have the answers.
Here are a few science-backed study tips for you to not only get into a good study groove but to take care of yourself as well.
Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.
Over time, many studies have shown that once you put a memory in long-term memory, you will need to revisit it a few times before it is properly stuck there for you to recall. The interval of time which you will need to revisit the memory becomes longer and longer after every time you go over it again. This was proposed by Hermann Ebbinghaus, who coined it the ‘Forgetting Curve’. Here is how often you should be looking at something after initially learning it.
For the first week
Review what you learned every 24 hours
For the first month
Once a week
For the first year
Once a month
Food That’s Good For the Brain
Improving your diet has been shown to have many great effects besides improving your physical health, such as giving you a good nights sleep (which can help eliminate some of that study stress), but it has also been shown to increase your mental efficiency.
Eating foods rich in Omega 3 oils, such as fish, seeds and nuts, helps improve your nerves myelin sheaths, a vital component of your mental efficiency. It is also important to eat consistently throughout the day, in order to keep your energy levels stable. So pop a can of tuna into your study routine, and be rewarded with a happy, healthy brain. If you’re interested in the effects of food and drink on the brain, explore our guide on how coffee affects studying.
Some more brain foods to start investing in are
Suprise surprise turns out last minute cramming is not the best way to get knowledge properly staying in your brain. A few reasons for you to use flashcards and really up your exam preparation are
They engage 'Active Recall'
When you look at a flashcard and try to remember the answer, you use a mental faculty names ‘Active Recall’. To put it simply, you are actively making an effort to remember, which has been shown to form stronger neuron connections.
Upon correcting your answer, when you check what is on the other side of the card, you are performing something called ‘Metacognition’, which means to self-reflect. This has been proven to ingrain ideas deeper into one’s long-term memory.
Being able to separate your flashcards into piles of how often you need to repeat them, is called ‘confidence-based repetition’, which for a long time has been shown to be the most effective way to study, which brings me onto my next tip
Take Regular Breaks
Studies show that giving your brain a rest between studying helps keep you refreshed, interested, and even makes takes advantage of your memory, by using time intervals. Whilst there are various ways to split up your study time, the Pomodoro technique is one of the most famous, which uses intervals of 25 minutes (named Pomodoros). Heres how to use it.
Every 4 repetitions of this technique take an extended break, usually 15-20 minutes. Then go back to studying. This has proven to be one of the most effective study methods and is frequently endorsed by professors and memory experts alike. For more help with improving your memory, have a read of our Mnemonics guide.