Increase Retention When Studying

Increase Retention When Studying

 No man was ever wise by chance - Seneca


1. Recall

After studying write down and say as much as you can remember.  Repeat this for 5 minutes and before long they will be easily remembered for a short time.  This is a good step right before an exam.


2. Meditate

Do this before your study session.  This will help you clear your mind and increase your focus on the material you're trying to remember.  


3. Teach

To teach not only do we need to understand the material, we need to simplify it for those that know nothing.  The act of simplifying makes memorisation a lot easier.  So write a blog on what you've learnt.  Share your knowledge in a video or just talk to a friend/family member and help them understand what you now know.  

You don't need to understand everything.  This is part of the process, not the final result.  Fox example - I don't know everything about how the brain remembers and recalls information, but I'm sharing what I do know, enhancing my own knowledge and retention in the process.


4. Link

This may be the most important idea.  Linking is the process of combining what you are learning with everything you already know.  

For example - The Halo Effect.  The halo effect is a psychological bias that states that when we like one thing about someone (eg. They're physically attractive) we'll see even more aspects of them as attractive.  In a sense the 'halo' (Their attractiveness) turns them into a perfect being, an angel.

Ok  now we have new knowledge.  How do we link it?  We already have the link to halos/angels.  What about our crush, everything's perfect about them, right?  What about people we hate?  The opposites true, those horns turn them into a demon.  If I've done my job right the Halo Effect will be hard for you to forget.  And if you remember  it be sure to use linking next time you study.


5. Question

Instead of taking notes (5 + 5 = 10) take questions (5 + 5 = ?) This forces you to think a little harder and as a result will solidify your knowledge.  Your questions should lead you back t whatever your note would have been e.g What is the Halo Effect?  Got it?  Great!


6. Useful 

We remember things that we consider useful or could be useful that's why we double down on some subjects and sleep through others.  If you want to improve your retention ask yourself how you could use this knowledge to benefit your life.  

For example - How could I use The Halo Effect to my advantage?  I can learn one attractive skill well and this bias will lead them to finding other aspects about me attractive. 


7. Small Wins

Before you finish your study session look back and answer the easy questions first.  These small wins will build you up to tackle the tougher ones.


8. Reason

This may be the most important idea.  Not for retention, but for your own happiness and wellbeing.  Write out why you're learning and if you can't get past 'To pass the exam' you should give up and focus on other subjects.  

For example - If I was taking an English exam.  I want to pass my exam.  This will allow me to get into University where I can study Animation.  These bit's of knowledge will also help me improve my writing.  With that I could sell my own books.  Learning to write also teaches me how to think clearer.  And with a clearer head I can become closer to living a peaceful life.


9. Reward

The basis of this is anther bias, The Peak End Effect.  This bias states that we remember the peak feelings of an experience and the end.  Studying isn't always easy so the peaks could be bad and tired feelings, but if we drag out the end with a reward that will help cancel out the bad feelings of the peak and leave us with a much happier memory of the experience, making it far more likely that we'd want to do it again.


10. Learn More

We always remember less than what we are taught, so if we learn more than what's taught in class we should remember more than the rest of the class (unless they're using this same trick.).  The added bias of the peak end rule should make remembering that other bias... what's it called again?... angels, attractiveness... hhmmm... See how easy it is?  How long did it take for you to remember that.  

Now go and reward yourself by wearing the most attractive clothing out there, by checking out 'The Stoics' page at the top of this site (or click those three lines if on mobile) and gain your halo, or you can just scroll down a little more and check out the featured collection.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your studies.


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