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Spring exams are just around the corner for university and college students across the country. And for younger kids, final exams and tests aren’t too far behind. While most students dread studying, it can be very difficult for some to actually learn and retain information.

Education Strategist Dwayne Matthews offers his top five tips for how students, of all ages, can make that information stick.

USE VISUALIZATION AND MEMORY MANSIONS

Visualization is a very powerful tool for learning. One of the techniques students can learn is the memory mansion. Here’s how it works: Visualize a room in detail. Then, using your imagination, place mental objects in the room that you would like to remember. Later, when you want to recall, go back into that room and find what you’re looking for. This technique works well with facts.

 

MAKE CONNECTIONS

Information is like stars in the sky- putting them into constellations help us to make sense and remember. That being said, the brain is constantly trying to make connections to create meaning. A great way for students to do this is to be very proactive in thinking of how information connects to other ideas and thoughts. ‘This connects to….This reminds me of….This is like….because of……’

 

USE SPACED REPETITION

Spaced repetition is a learning technique that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent reviews of previously learned material in order to exploit the psychological spacing effect. This is used effectively with cue cards and is well suited for vocabulary.

 

TAKE NOTES BY HAND

A professor at the University of California and a graduate student from Princeton University did a grad study. They found that handwriting is better than typing notes when it comes to learning and retaining. When participants were tested, the laptop users received significantly lower scores in the conceptual part of the test, even though they took twice the amount of notes as the handwriting students. This is because when using a laptop, students engage in verbatim note-taking which ‘signals less encoding of content’. They are ‘mindlessly transcribing content’, or typing notes without grasping any meaning.

 

TEACH SOMEONE ELSE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED

Teaching someone else leverages the Feynman technique, where you have to really simplify a concept to share it. It also helps the teacher identify any gaps in the ideas that need to be filled. If you can successfully teach someone what you’ve learned, then you truly understand the concept.