5 Supercharged Study Habits

Scientists have found that the following methods increase sustainable learning and retention when incorporated into learners’ daily study habits. These methods are complicated and require effort, and they slow down learning. Initially, the learning gains seem smaller than some ineffective practices. However, these techniques lead to long-term mastery.

Here are several research-proven studying techniques.

  1. Pre-test: When learners practice answering questions, even incorrectly, before learning the content, their future learning is enhanced. Inquiry has shown that pre-testing improves post-test results more than studying the same amount of time.
  2. Spaced practice: Spacing out studying—focusing on a topic for a period on different days—has improved retention and recall more than massed practice. Spaced practice can feel complicated due to an initial forgetting of knowledge—reacquiring that knowledge takes effort.

Creating flashcards that can be utilized for spaced practice and self-quizzing is effective. Learners should create different piles when reviewing the flash cards. The cards they can answer immediately should be placed in a pile to review three days later; those answered with difficulty should be reviewed two days later, and those answered improperly should be reviewed during the next day.

  1. 3. Self-quizzing: Testing has a negative implication in this era of standardized testing, but it is a form of retrieval practice. Encourage learners to make test questions for themselves as they learn a new concept, thinking about the types of questions you could ask on a quiz. They should integrate these quizzes into their study gatherings, answering every question, even those they believe they know well.
  2. Interleaving practice: Learners may rely on blocked practice, studying a set of problems—such as multiplication problems—as a group until they feel mastery. An effective technique of studying is to work on a set of related problems but not all of the same type—for example, a set of math word problems that call for an addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The successive problems cannot be solved with the same strategy. This is more efficient than doing one multiplication problem after another.
  3. Paraphrasing and reflecting: Many of us have read a few paragraphs in a textbook only to realize that we didn’t retain a single concept or key point presented in those paragraphs. To show your learners how to combat this, have them utilize intentional learning strategies. These include relating what is being learned to prior knowledge, thinking about how they would explain the content to a 5-year-old, and reflecting on and asking questions about the content.