It’s report card time down here in Florida.
In spite of Hurricane Irma closing schools in our district for 6 days in September (with two weekends included in those days off resulting in a 10 day break in the middle of the first quarter of the new school year) it’s still report card time.
So, as interims post, report cards loom, and parents bite their fingernails, I wanted to share a few tips that will help students of all ages work smarter instead of harder when earning their good grades.
Study tip 1: Finish learning 2 days early
This one is super easy and super helpful, but not always possible when teachers are hurrying to catch up on back-logged lesson plans. HOWEVER, if we give ourselves time to finish learning the material a day or two before the test, our brains retain and process the material much more easily. Information that has time to “settle” is better retained and more easily accessed than information that gets crammed in at the last minute. So, finish ingesting material 2 days before the test and enjoy that extra (effortless) learning advantage!
Study tip 2: KISS it! (Keep It Simple, Silly!)
If we think of our brain as a CPU, or a high speed processor like the one inside our computer, we can more easily understand how we learn information, how our brains store information, and then how our brains retrieve that information later. The process that goes on inside our brain and the process that goes on inside our computer are really quite similar. By streamlining our learning process, saving and retrieval becomes much more efficient.
Think about it, the stuff that is easiest to find on our hard drive usually has the most direct file path. We start getting into trouble when we have folders inside of folders inside of folders. And then we really get into trouble when we start moving those folders around to different locations where we think they will be “easier to find” later. Eventually, the computer just gives up keeping track of that jumbled mess of information and you get the error message:
FILE NOT FOUND. CORRUPT FILE PATH.
The same thing happens when we sit down to take a test and our minds go blank. The information that is supposed to be there hasn’t saved effectively and so, at the pivotal moment, the information isn’t available for us to use. The answer: keep the information you are learning well organized and simplify it down to the smallest manageable chunks before you try to learn it. In short, KISS it!
Study tip 3: Study with lots of Stops and Starts
Marathon study sessions do us NO favors.
Let me explain with an example. We have a big test on Monday, so we sit down on Sunday afternoon and tell ourselves, “I’m not getting up until I know this information inside and out!”
Our study session looks something like this:
What happens is that we tend to remember what happened at the beginning of our study session, when our brain is fresh, and we tend to remember what happened at the end of our study session, when our brain is looking forward to the reward of being done.
What we don’t hold on to as well is that big chunk of information in the middle. Otherwise known as the BULK of the information we just studied.
What if, instead, our study sessions looked more like this:
By allowing ourselves many shorter study sessions instead of one really long study session, we trick our brain into remembering more by giving ourselves lots of stops and starts! We effortlessly retain more information just by changing the way we study. WINNING!
For example, a GREAT way to study spelling words, vocabulary words, or anything else you can fit on a flash card is DURING COMMERCIALS. If you are enjoying some “screen time” anyway, use it to your advantage! Skip watching the commercials and give yourself a few short study bursts during that time instead.
Using these quick tips and others like them, learning becomes more efficient and recall more successful. Effortless success! Give it a try!
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