Exams for colleges are just round the corner and every individual has key plans for the battle they’re soon going to fight.
As the exams are nearing here we present 10 most popular learning techniques ranked LOW to HIGH.
1. Highlighting, underlining, and marking materials.
Highlighting is one of the most popular methods for students in college. Although an extremely popular method of learning, highlighting ranked rather low on this study’s utility scale.
This technique is popular because it is very easy to implement and require very little training. Most studies analysed in the meta-analysis showed no noticeable improvement in test scores by highlighting over simply reading the information.
Although highlighting, underlining, and marking materials are often paired with other methodologies of learning, the study evaluated highlighting on its own merit.
Tips for highlighting: Although highlighting alone has shown to be no more effective than simply reading the material, the combination of highlighting with other methods in the study will prove to be effective in retaining information for testing.
2. Keyword Mnemonics
This ranked surprisingly low in the meta-study but I imagine the reason it is low is because it does require some training and can only be applied to specific types of tests/tasks that require memorization. For instance, it may not help as much when you are attempting to use this method to solving a linear algebra problem. The idea of a mnemonic device is to develop mental images and associations with a word or term.
Tips for mnemonics: Don’t let the low utility grade fool you, keyword mnemonics is a very valuable learning tool for memorising many ideas/words.
In order to create more durable knowledge, the mental imagery needs to be more memorable and needs to be revisited a few times in spaced intervals.
3. Imagery Use for Text Learning
This method is different from keyword mnemonics as this method forms a mental image of a whole sentence/concept, instead of a single keyword.
However, the research suggests that the method is rather limited in nature. This method, like the keyword mnemonics method above, does require some training to do effectively. Studies of imagery use have only been limited to text that is rather easy to imagine, and not abstract concepts, such as topics that are more mathematical and scientific in nature.
The imagery of text material tips: To make the most of imagery, make sure that the images are extremely memorable. It can help to draw out the concept on paper and then visually taking a picture with your head.
Rereading is another popular technique used by students. Rereading has always been one of my least favourite methods of study just because I feel like I don’t get much out of it for the time I put into rereading. Turns out, there is a scientific basis for my loathe of rereading.Theoretically, rereading improves learning because it increases the total amount of information encoded, regardless of the kind or level of information contained within the text.
Turns out, there is a scientific basis for my loathe of rereading.Theoretically, rereading improves learning because it increases the total amount of information encoded, regardless of the kind or level of information contained within the text.
Tips for rereading: If you are going to reread, doing so by leaving a little bit of time (but not too much) between the initial reading and the rereading.
Summarization is pretty self-explanatory; it is the process of summarising a section of the chapter you are trying to learn.
In theory, this method should work because it involves extracting the gist and higher-level meaning of learned text, which is important to understanding concepts. Summarising was found to be effective for those already adept at summarising.
The quality of the summary matters. Summaries that included more information and were linked to prior knowledge were shown to do better.
Tips for summarization: If you are summarising, it is important to get the core concepts and the overall concepts correct as it is the basis of your knowledge.
Additionally, summarise using shorthand notations that you develop as it will allow you to summarise more of the material. Try to make the summary very very simple, as if you’re trying to explain it to a 7-year-old (that’s what Einstein recommended).
6. Elaborative Interrogation
Elaborative interrogation is the process of asking yourself why in an attempt to understand concepts.
For instance, if you are learning about E=MC^2, a starting question you might ask yourself is “why does E equal MC^2?”
This method is extremely simple to use and require no training; however, it does require some familiarity with the topic (and related topics) to be effective.This method is particularly efficient with time as one study on self-paced learning showed that elaborative interrogation took 32 minutes (reading + elaborative interrogation) compared to 28 minutes for the reading-only group.
This is particularly good news as reading is generally monotonous thus elaborative interrogation done during reading can enhance learning by taking away the monotony.
Tips for elaborative interrogation: Elaborative interrogation can be very effective when done frequently. So as you are reading, be sure to check your understanding of the material by asking yourself questions every couple of paragraphs or so. Research suggests that the gains from this technique are diluted when the elaborative interrogation is employed once every 1-2 pages. To make further use of this technique, use a notebook to write down the questions you are asking as well as the answers as you are reading along.
Research suggests that the gains from this technique are diluted when the elaborative interrogation is employed once every 1-2 pages. To make further use of this technique, use a notebook to write down the questions you are asking as well as the answers as you are reading along.
Self-explanation is a close relative of elaborative interrogation. This method involves the participant explaining and recording how one reaches an answer or conclusion.
This is actually a popular method for solving abstract problems and similar to the requirement in many math classes to show your work. This was found to be more effective when done during the initial learning stage, instead of after learning.
A strength of this learning strategy is that it can be applied to a whole variety of tasks and subjects
Tips for self-explanation: When doing self-explanation, it helps to write out the questions that you want to ask yourself and then write down the answers. The process of writing the questions and answers down further commits the concepts to memory and lets your brain organise the importance of the materials.
8. Interleaved practice
Interleaved practice is when the student studies the topic at hand but also blends the study of previous topics/concepts at the same time.
For instance, if a student is learning the concept of polynomials this week in Algebra but learned about simplifying algebraic equations, and solving inequalities the previous couple of weeks, then interleaved practice means that the student should spend most of his time studying polynomials but also spend a fair amount of time simplifying algebraic equations and solving inequalities.
Tips for interleaved practice: Interleaved practice is a must if you are doing math and science. The practice of going back through previous chapters and topics act as a much-needed refresher because much of math and science builds on previously studied material. Interleaved practice also shows great promise for learning foreign languages also.
9. Practice testing
This should come as no surprise—practice testing has been lauded by learning experts as one of the best ways to retain information. Practice testing has over 100 years of research to back up its effectiveness.
Simply put, it works. Practice testing doesn’t need to actually be an actual test and in a testing environment.
In actuality, you can test yourself anytime, anywhere, and with anything. You can test yourself in your head by asking yourself questions and answering them. You can also test yourself by using flash cards. You can test yourself by doing practice problems without the aid of notes or textbook material.
And yes, you can test yourself by setting yourself up in a testing environment. Practice testing is highly effective because it is reasonable with time demand, doesn’t take a whole lot to learn how to do, and works for all types of tasks and subjects.
Tips for practice testing: Studies show that immediate retesting without time between tests does very little good in increasing learning. Rather, practice testing should be done when enough time has elapsed between practice tests.
And as said “Practice makes a man perfect” here’s the most effective method.
10. Distributed practice.
Distributed practice is the method of dividing your studies over time intervals rather than doing it in one large chunk. This is why cramming for tests does not work; studies have repeatedly shown that distributed practice is better for material retention and absorption.
The reason distributed practice works is because it gives the brain time to absorb the information by switching back and forth between focused and diffused mode of thinking. The evidence is pretty clear that spacing your studies is important to remembering what you learn.
Tips for distributed practice: Although it would be nice to let 30 days sit between each study session, you are not given such luxury in an academic environment; most classes span 3-4 months in length and have between two to four big tests during that time, along with weekly quizzes and homework.
Thus, the best thing to do with a test for school is to use the 24-hour spacing interval to restudy your material. Within the first several days of learning, you should space out your learning between every 24 hours.
Afthe first four review sessions (with 24 hours between each review), your review sessions can be further spaced out and less detailed. In fact, letting a month go by after the first four review sessions are completely fine.
So what are you waiting for? Try them out these exams and let us know what do you take out of it.
Also, do share it with your friends because you already know sharing is caring 😉