Hey SAIT students,
Welcome to the fourth Learning From Home 101 blog post (the previous one was Taking Lecture Notes). In this post, we’ve written about 5 high-impact strategies for studying that will help you study smarter, not harder.
Spacing is studying for the same amount of time you desire to study for (e.g. 2 hours), but breaking that time up into smaller intervals (e.g. four 30-minute study sessions with breaks in-between). Ultimately, the 2 examples equal to the same amount of study time. However, by breaking your desired study time up into smaller intervals with breaks in-between, you’re giving your brain time to process the information you’re studying before moving on.
Interleaving is a process where you mix multiple concepts/topics while studying. Most people think that they study better with blocked practice (dedicating a specific time for a specific subject – e.g. studying Biology after breakfast, and then Spanish after lunch). However, interleaving has been shown to be more effective than blocked practice for developing the skills of association, categorization, and problem solving. Interleaving also leads to better long-term retention and improved ability to transfer learned knowledge as this strategy forces the brain to continually retrieve.
Deep processing is exactly what it sounds like – taking what you’re studying further (deeper). Here are 4 ways you can do this:
+ Relate: How is the concept/topic you’re studying similar to other concepts/topics you know?
+ Distinguish: How is the concept/topic you’re studying different to other concepts/topics you know?
+ Personalize: How can you link the concept/topic you’re studying to a personal experience?
+ Think of use: How can you expect to apply the concept/topic you’re studying?
When we talk about self-testing, we’re not talking about asking yourself a couple of questions here and there to casually answer. We’re talking about truly mimicking taking a test on the concept/topic you’re studying. If you’re not going to be taking your actual test in a café, don’t do your practice test in a café – do it somewhere with minimal distraction, much like the environment you’re going to find yourself in during your actual test. When self-testing, only give yourself the resources you’d be allowed on your actual test. If your actual test isn’t going to be one that’s open book, don’t use your textbook(s) when self-testing. When self-testing, try answering questions in format of the actual test you’ll be taking in the future. For example, if you know your professor is going to want to see at least 3 steps you took in order to arrive at your final answer, get into the habit of showing those 3 steps when self-testing. Finally, time your self-testing. If your actual test only allows you 30 minutes to answer 20 questions, then only give yourself 30 minutes to answer 20 questions when self-testing.
We have no doubt that you already know this strategy and are therefore rolling your eyes at us for including it. But we’re including it anyway because it truly works! There’s something out there called The Curve of Forgetting, and it shows us how information is lost over time when there’s no attempt to retain it. In fact, we tend to halve our memory of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days unless we consciously review the learned material.