There’s more to being smart than just being smart. It’s something you do.
Science shows that context and strategy matter almost as much as mental horsepower when it comes to learning fast. There are a lot of people who think they’re not good learners, but they’re just not practicing effectively.
There are tons of research-backed tips on how to cram more information into your brain faster and more effectively. You can use them whether you’re an athletic training student, a professional working on a training or certification, or just a life-long learner.
1. Learn to teach.
An experiment went like this: one group of students was given a sheet of paper with material and told to learn it for a test. Another group got the same sheet and was told to learn it to teach it to someone else. Both took the same test. Can you guess who did better? By far, those who learned to teach.
It’s an insight Nobel laureate Richard Feynman understood well. So next time you have to learn something, try teaching it to another athletic training student instead of just reading it again and again.
2. Remember more with retrieval.
After class, get a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you learned today. At night, get another blank piece of paper and write down everything you remember from class. That will have a way bigger impact than most of the stuff athletic training students do when studying.
3. Test yourself.
Cognitive science says tests aren’t the end goal of learning. It’s how you learn. Open up your textbook, look at the subheadings, cover the page underneath, and try to remember what each section is about. The ATStudy Buddy Quick Reviews are designed to help you do this process as well.
Try imagining what questions might appear on the test to focus on what you need to learn and what areas might be confusing.
4. Space practice.
As many discover in college, cramming might help you pass the test in the short term, but you soon forget what you learned. You’ll learn more, faster, by spreading out your learning sessions over time, according to science.
Spend an hour every single day for four days instead of four hours on one day if you have four hours to study. You can even break up an hour into four 15-minute sessions.
5. Don’t focus.
Science says you’re better off mixing things up than focusing on one concept or section until you master it. You’ll be able to recall information when you need it more easily if you move between subtopics.
6. Study in different places.
Don’t make your local cafe or library your second home. It’s actually good for your brain to mix up where you study. When you associate different environmental cues with the material you’re learning, you’re more likely to remember it later.
7. Don’t flip that flashcard too quickly.
Are you studying terms or vocabulary? When you don’t know an answer, don’t flip that flashcard. Try to remember it as hard as you can and try to remember things related to it. After you look at the answer, even if you can’t retrieve it, you’re going to remember it better.