How to study better, according to science |

It’s that time of the year when students are all ditching nights out and (gasp) reducing Netflix bingeing to study. Unless you’re an ace student with the mind of a sponge, the rest of the student population will have to contend with hitting the books. But if studying well is not your strong suit, there are some tips that can help you learn a little bit better and faster. These techniques are so simple and effective, it’s a wonder why they’re not taught in schools…

Reading out loud

A research published in the journal Memory by Canada’s University of Waterloo showed that we can get a boost of 5-15% in learning speed when we actually read out loud, compared to silently reading material. Apparently all you have to do is simply say the information that you want to remember out loud and you’ll likely remember it more – it’s that simple!

Well, 5% may not be an impressive gain, but what’s there to lose, right? Just don’t read out loud in a library…

Write, not type

When attending lectures, we all tend to type them out on our laptops to save time – especially if we’re trying to furiously match what the profs are saying. But numerous researches have shown that taking notes by hand greatly increases memory retention because it allows the brain to receive feedback from a person’s motor actions, helping them establish a connection between reading and writing.

Typing often leads to mindless processing, and there is something about ink and paper that prompts students to go beyond merely hearing and recording new information.

Exercise after studying

This may sound time-consuming, but those of you who are already gym rats can see the benefits of this. Exercising is a great way to prevent diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but it’s also proven to change your brain to help improve your memory and thinking skills.

A University of British Columbia study found that regular aerobic exercise – the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping rather than just muscle toning activities – appears to boost the size of the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.

Mix your subjects while studying

Interleaving is when you mix multiple subjects or topics you’re studying, and research has shown that it improves long-term learning. It’s more beneficial than studying one topic thoroughly before moving onto another topic.

Interleaving works because it helps you distinguish between concepts, and forces you to continually retrieve information, as each concept is different from the last. Cognitive scientists believe this method allows the brain to differentiate between concepts, and strengthens your memory since you’re constantly having to retrieve it.

If you’re interested in more learning tricks, we’ve got more here. All of these tips and tricks aren’t difficult to do, so why not spend a little time familiarising yourself with the science of studying?