21 Scientifically Proven Ways to Learn Faster


An individual learning session is only as successful as its cumulative result. While studying for an exam, it is imperative to make your learning process fruitful. Today many students are found complaining about difficult paper patterns and tests that are misleading. Let’s discuss some scientifically proved learning practices that will make these tests as easy as a walk in the park.

1) Spaced practice

Spaced learning is one of the most effective learning strategies. It is human nature to forget, therefore to recall and refresh the learned topics, it is imperative to continually go over them after intervals. ‘We learn through practice, little and often’ are the famous words of Ebbinghaus. And these words are a student’s treasure.

2) Thwart the "curve of forgetting"

Another method to more effectively implement the ‘spaced practice’ method is to thwart the ‘curve of forgetting.’ It is scientifically proven that if one reviews a lecture with in the first 24 hours then 80% of the total information can be retained without any hurdle. Furthermore, if revised once daily than it takes just 5 minutes to retain 100% of the information.

3) Prevent Cognitive overload

Lessons and courses are usually prepared without any regards to the human memory, power of retention and recall. It is therefore up to the learner to simplify the cognitive topics of interest via help of teacher’s, lectures and help material. At any cost, prevent cognitive overload and seek measures beforehand to simplify your trouble areas.

4) Chunking

On of the easiest and most effective practices while learning is ‘Chunking’. Be aware of your limits while studying and set your own ‘amounts’. Then ‘Chunk up’ the learning material in reasonable portions and use them to make the most of your time, energy and capabilities.

5) Pay attention to orde

The order in which you learn is very important. Especially in subjects like Mathematics and Languages. It is the correct order of progression that makes learning easy and effective. Learn in the wrong order and you may end up in a jumble when required to recall the material.

6) Episodic (visual) and semantic (text) memory

Things we learn are first sorted and then stored in our memory. Judging by the amount of PowerPoint and white board techniques used in class; it is easy to guess that Episodic or Visual memory is much more reliable, hence use episodic aids in study whenever possible.

7) Psychological attention

Although no one can deny the importance of classroom education, an average student is very prone to all the distractions present in this scenario. Therefore, do not rely upon the studying done just in the classroom. Most productive learning is best done on your own or one-to-one.

8) Contexual or Workplace Learning

Whatever we learn is enhanced in recall by learning in physical context. That is, by learning in environment in which one is likely to perform, makes remembering easier and accurate.

9) Chew gum

Benefits of chewing gum while reading is not urban legend, it is a fact! Baylor College of Medicine did a study in 2009, where a group of students were given a Mathematics test; in which the gum chewer students scored remarkably higher scores then the non-gum chewers. Chewing stimulates the brain by increasing the blood flow to it, thereby increasing the cognitive responses of the brain. Chewing gum before the exam helps too!

10) Use active recall

Many scientists swear by the method of ‘Active Recall’. This means reading and rereading textbooks and written lectures is not the way to do it. Instead close the book and recall everything learned to cement the learned lesson into your memory.

11) Insist on Print

Although the visual aids help in memorizing, using Kindle and iPods hinder in the speed of reading, learning and memorizing. iPad users suffer 6.2% and Kindle users suffer 10.7% slower reading rates as compared to printed books. Even computer users require more time to read as compared to printed material.

12) Practice the Leitner System

Flashcards are the most effective way of learning while using the Leitner System. Place the incorrectly answered flash cards on the top of your cards deck while moving the correctly answered cards to the back of deck. This will ensure that you revise the incorrect cards more times and reinforce it to your memory.

13) Don't over learn 

Once you have gotten all your flashcards right, put them down and move on to other subject or just relax. Never overlearn, as it may cause diminishing effect on your memory commitment. Researchers from University of South Florida and UC San Diego have done studies to support this effect.

14) Play background music...

This practice does not mean full on jamming session, rather, when studying for a test or exam listening to Mozart pieces can cause increased speed of spatial processing. This study does not support modern music, so stick to classics for optimum results.

15) Stop multitasking

You may feel that you are getting more work done by messaging about the study material with your friend while studying at the same time, but scientists have proven that multitasking while studying decreases the effectiveness of learning and memorizing process.

16) Relax

Stress hinders brain efficiency. This is one more reason to not wait until the last minute to study. In fact, according to a study conducted at University of Notre Dame, students who sleep shortly after studying perform much better in exams.

17) Exercise first 

The effects of exercise on brain are well documented. So, if you want to give your brain a kick-start before studying, exercise first shortly before you sit down for a cramming session.

18) Take the practice tests

It takes no rocket scientist to judge the fact that knowing the paper pattern of a particular exam can boost your confidence in your learning skills. Therefore, attempt previous papers of your exams available online, or ask a teacher to provide copies of their previous papers, and practice solving them before an exam.

19) Sort the connections

According to scientists, the best way to minimize time and energy when learning different topics; is to form connections between ideas. Instead of spending time memorizing individual facts separately, get the bigger picture. Cramming pieces together to have a comprehensive idea about every aspect of the topic is recommended by many top graders across the world.

20) Change the scenery 

Been studying for a while? Does your brain feel like a wrung sponge? Take 10 minutes break, walk outside, breathe fresh air or just move to another room. The change in scenery will make a big difference in your studying pattern

21) Change the material

Just like changing scenery, changing the topic within the same lesson can also help boost your concentration level. When studying mathematics if you are feeling stuck in one concept, start practicing new one. This will help in siphoning your brain without deviating from the topic.

These time tested and scientifically proven studying techniques have changed the lives of many students. Employ these in your everyday study program, and you should see a dramatic improvement in your grades.

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Kristy Feldman

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