7 tips for how to learn best

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Possess the ability to fully and effectively to learn; that's what everyone wants, right? Unfortunately, there is relatively little attention at school for what really works and what doesn't. It's therefore no surprise that I'm often asked how you learn best. Time to provide you with some mega valuable learning tips and strategies that will ensure that you've more success in (business) economics as well as in any other subject. In other words, 7 tips for how you can learn best. (Spoiler alert: most people learn highly ineffectively),

These learning tips will ensure that you get more done in less time and that you remember the material much better.

Okay, ready to take your learning skills to the next level? Then read on quickly.

7 tips for how to learn best

In order to really learn to learn well, it's first of all good to know what doesn't work. So let me get straight to the point: most people learn wrong or at least ineffective. One of the most commonly used learning strategies is (prolonged) rereading of text from textbooks, alternating with highlighting text and maybe that's your favorite way of learning too.

Why does rereading not work or at least not as well? Your brain, and more specifically the part responsible for your memory, likes to be stimulated and challenged. If your brain has it too easy, it makes less effort and simply remembers less. Compare it to the gym: your muscles only get stronger with sufficient resistance. Why is rereading too easy? Because you then read/learn on the basis of recognition (with the book included), so that when you read the text you get the feeling of "oh yes, I know this". But if you then close your book, it's a lot harder to reproduce what it says.

Since your memory is essential for learning, the following learning tips relate to two parts of memory:

1) our ability to store information (storage strength);
2) our ability to retrieve information when we need it, both in the short and long term (retrieval strength).

Now that you know this, it's high time to answer the question: " how do you learn best? ".

  • 1. Spread the learning (the spacing effect)

    It's very wise to divide the learning into different sessions. It's better to learn three one-hour sessions than one three-hour session, and preferably also on different days. Why does spreading learning work so well? Because you (partially) forget the material between sessions, specially if you spread the learning over several days. Your memory then has to work harder to bring the lesson material back up, making the necessary connections (neural pathways) in your brain stronger. The chance of getting the right answer at the right time (during your test!) is much greater this way! Compare it to watering a lawn. If you throw a whole splash of water over the grass at once, not everything will be absorbed. It works much better in small steps. Of course, it helps if you plan these learning sessions in advance and don't just start learning right before the test.

  • 2. Active retrieval – generate

    your own learning material Have you ever had the feeling that you knew 'everything' and that you were 100% sure to get a high mark and that things went completely wrong on the test? There is a good chance that you've (unintentionally) fooled yourself by passive learning. In other words, you've probably learned mainly on the basis of recognition (checking whether you know the material with the book). Active retrieval is much more effective! How does that work? In fact, active retrieval is the process of reproducing the learning without using the textbook or taking notes. Think of explaining the material out loud to someone else (your dog, your parents, not necessarily in that order) or having the write out material for yourself again (important concepts, cause-effect relationships, schemes, formulas, etc.).

    Getting yourself tested is also fine. Of course you do this with your textbook closed. Afterwards you can check with your book what you knew by heart and what you didn't yet. It's only when you can reproduce the material without the book that you know you really know it. The chance that you fool yourself like this is much smaller!

  • 3. Vary in subjects (interleaving)

    Here too, the following applies: our brains are geared to recognizing 'new' information. Working on the same subject for a long time makes the memory lazy and makes you remember the material less well. As you learn, alternate different topics and repeat practice exercises from different topics. In this way you stimulate your brain and the memory remains alert. Do you study for multiple tests, for example during a test week? Then alternate not only subjects, but also subjects. So don't first learn everything about economics and then move on to mathematics; variety does wonders for your learning outcomes!

  • 4. Link the teaching material to concrete examples

    Collect a few concrete examples of the teaching material per subject. These can be examples that your teacher has mentioned during the lesson, but also examples that you search for yourself on the internet. Linking abstract teaching material to concrete examples helps to remember the material better and to bring it up again at the right time.

  • 5. Combine text with images (dual coding)

    When you link text to visual material, you'll remember the material much better and faster. Examples of visualizing learning material in words are graphs, diagrams, cartoons or other drawings. When actively retrieving the material (see tip 2), you can redraw the subject matter and explain the meaning of the drawing in your own words. It isn't for nothing that they say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

  • 6. Take Sufficient Breaks and Eliminate Distractions

    This tip is essential for successful learning, so take it easy. Let's start with avoiding distractions. When you start learning, your brain needs 15 to 20 minutes to boot up and create focus. You could call it flow. However, any distraction completely resets this process, taking another 15 to 20 minutes. Getting a message on your phone is enough to destroy your focus. If you want to learn like a pro, ditch your phone (temporarily). Of course, this also applies to people who think that joint learning through Skype or Whatsapp is a good plan. Not. To do. There is one exception: OsAcademie watching movies Besides distraction, taking enough breaks is very wise (sounds good, huh!). Learning in blocks of 25 minutes is often optimal (but experiment with this on yourself) and then take a 5 minute break. Focusing for more than 25 minutes is often too much to ask. After 4 blocks of 25 minutes it's good to take a longer break (at least half an hour). What are you doing during this break? Exercise is always good; so take a walk through the house or through the garden. This stimulates blood flow in the brain and clears your working memory for a while. And.. I know it's not fun to read, but also keep your phone away during your breaks. You then disrupt the processing of what you've just learned.

  • 7. Limit your apprenticeship and be strict with yourself

    Ever heard of Parkinson's law? No, this has nothing to do with the disease. However, with the fact that, if you don't define learning time, you ensure that your (learning) work fills up all available time. It also increases the chance that you'll do something else anyway. You will not be the first student to play games, instagram or netflix because you 'still have all the time'. Be specific when you're going to learn and what exactly you're going to do. So "I'm going to learn today" is way too vague and increases the chance that at the end of the day you still haven't done anything. Recognizable? I already thought so. From now on you say: "I'm going to study paragraph 3.1 + 3.2 for economics between 7 and 8 am"(and thanks to tip 6 you can take a 5 minute break in between..).

Those were the seven learning tips on how to learn best. I challenge you to try them out. Not all at once, just step by step and even if you only use 2 or 3, you'll still see that your learning success improves by leaps and bounds. You will notice that thanks to the above tips, the subject matter is in your head much faster and for a longer period of time. I wish you a lot of (learning) fun with the above learning tips. Good luck and strength with all that learning.

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