How to be better at studying

14678-Studying-And-Dying

The information presented here was initially drafted for an important, special person I used to know. It’s now available to anyone who might find this useful.

Introduction

Most of the scientific material, data, research and evidence presented in the blog are derived directly from Make it stick, a book that details the scientific understanding of memory and learning. It’s wonderful literature.

Yet, I have always felt the book took a long time to make its points, often winding you around various personal stories, unnecessary metaphors and bloated repetition. I have cut out most of the fluff, or at least I hope I have.

This means information presented in this blog is not based on personal anecdotes or observations (they are usually flawed) but rigorously supported by various keystone studies. You should still make it a point to be sceptical.

We generally approach studying the way a bull charges the red flag – blind, unthinking and unimaginative. More is equated with better. If you aren’t cramming, then you sure aren’t doing it right.

We have almost never given any thought about how to study. Like most traditions, religions and supernatural beliefs, we have rarely taken it upon ourselves to critically examine established methods of studying.

Teachers, along with our seniors and peers, are most unhelpful when giving us advice to study. If our education system is anything to go by, then lectures, remedial and more lectures must be paths to academic mastery.

Either that, or dispensing pages after pages of summarised notes, key points and drilling surely must yield something. It is almost like hurling darts at the board in pitch darkness. Surely if you keep trying, something will stick – there is a laughable desperation in that.

You have been there: spent a few days completely memorising and rereading a textbook, did reasonably well (or poorly) for the exam and in the subsequent week(s), everything you have memorised has gone the way of the dodo bird.

It is the aim of these posts to correct misconceptions of learning – how to study, rather than how much to study, is the vital point addressed here. The approaches to studying presented here goes against conventional advice – You will feel discomfort.

Continue: Correcting Misconceptions about Studying

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