8 Advanced Study Tips

8 Advanced Study Tips

Advanced study tips you’ll get from professors and other people who want you to be better in school are too often really basic.

They’ll tell you to sit up front in class and scan your textbooks instead of reading every single chapter.

Maybe you want something better to increase your focus. When you play fighting games, you want to know the frame rate in every single move set and analyze each matchup instead of just playing the game and “having fun.”

You’re the same way with studying. You want to find really advanced tips to hack your learning. You want to find things that don’t come up when you get your basic study tips. This is the blog for you. Are you ready for 8 advanced study tips? Let’s get started!

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Use the Corson technique

Dale Corson was the eighth president of Cornell University, and he was also a chemistry professor. He said that students in chemistry and other science and math programs often have to work really hard to crack problems one sentence at a time as they go through their textbooks or problem sets.

Sometimes you get to a point where you just can’t crack the problem on your own and you need to ask for help. So you go to your professor!

What Dale Corson wants you to think about before you actually talk to a professor is to pause and ask yourself: what is it that I truly don’t understand?

He wants you to get away from this thing that a lot of students do where they go to their professor and with a general wave of the hand and say “I don’t understand what I’m looking at, like this is just confusing to me, I don’t get it.” Instead, he wants you to pick apart the problem one sentence at a time and figure out the exact point at which you don’t get what’s going on.

When you can pinpoint that, you’re going to impress your professor with your preparation and the amount of effort you put into the problem. You will get some brownie points there, but you’re also working to practice the art of recognizing confusion and following it down to its actual source.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is the art of studying things at increasingly bigger and bigger intervals of time. It’s a very efficient way to study, but it also takes advantage of the way your brain works. If you know that individual fact very well, you will not see it for quite a while. In contrast, if there is a fact that you don’t know, you’re going to see that more and more frequently.

Your brain is trying to recall information and you’re forcing it out at the closest time possible to when you are about to forget it. This makes your brain work as hard as it possibly can to recall this information and it encodes it better. This makes you more efficient so you can actually learn a lot faster now.

The best way to take advantage of this is to use a free and generalized program called Anki. You can actually create your own card sets for any type of data that you think you would want to study or you can download shared card decks here.

Definitely check this out. Preparing your own card decks is very useful, but even going through the shared decks and studying them is more efficient than using flashcard study methods on paper.

Method of Loci

The method of loci goes back to the Greek and Roman times. It is a memorization method that has been used by memory champs for a long time. It essentially takes advantage of your brain’s ability to remember spatial information very well through visualization. The classic way to do it is to associate certain sets of data with different rooms of a house.

For example, this is the symbol for “King” in Japanese:

The way that you say “king” in Japanese is “Oh.” Unfortunately, “Oh” is a really simple pronunciation. It doesn’t really lend itself to well to mnemonics. If you wanted to adapt the method of loci to learning this word, you could associate “king” with “toilet.”

No, I am not against using five-year-old humor here!

What do you say when you smell the toilet?

If you really wanted to make this study technique useful,  you could go into the bathroom and put a flashcard on the toilet. Then you can walk through my house and use this method for all sorts of words. Now the method of loci is not as easy to apply as Anki, but if you’ve got a lot to memorize and nothing else has worked, this might be worth your time.

Hack akrasia

Akrasia is a term that has been written about for centuries and it goes back to Plato. It’s essentially a lack of command over oneself.

There’s another even more complex term called picoeconomics. Basically, we discount the value of a task the more it is delayed and the more the reward is pushed off into the future. We tend to procrastinate and do fun things that don’t really align with our values in the short term and avoid doing things that really do line up with our values because the reward is delayed.

So there are two ways to hack akrasia.

First, use a commitment device bind yourself to getting your task done on time. I love Beeminder.

Second, add a shorter term reward to completing a task. You can put gummy bears on your textbook. As you read each paragraph, you can allow yourself to eat each gummy bear. You can also let yourself watch an episode of Game of Thrones once you finish an assignment.

Game of Thrones 8 advanced study tips
Give yourself a reward after you complete that assignment!

Just make sure you give yourself some fun experience and a goal when you finish the study problem set. Otherwise, you risk causing akrasia.

Improve the Pomodoro Technique

In case you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, it’s simply where you set a timer for 25 minutes and then work only on one task during that 25-minute session. Then you take a 5-minute break.

It’s very useful, but there are some areas for improvement:

Tocks

Tocks are essentially a Pomodoro session except that you use 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break instead of the classic 25-minute 5-minute break structure. The tip here is to experiment with the time intervals. Don’t just set yourself to 25 minutes and assume that that’s the only potential interval that you could study at. Find what works for you!

Distraction list

Put a piece of paper next to you during your Pomodoro session. Whenever anything comes up to distracts you like a phone call or the urge to check Facebook, write it down. This lets you remember what the distraction was and if it happened to be something urgent you can take care of it during your break time. Also, as you continue to do lots of Pomodoro sessions over many weeks, you start to see the common problems that distract you. You can then take steps to prevent these things.

Focused and diffused thinking

In A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science Even if You Flunked Algebra, Barbara Oakley describes the chess strategy of Magnus Carlsen. He is currently the number one player in the world, but back in 2004 when he was just 13 years old he played Garry Kasparov to a draw. Kasparov is still considered one of the best chess players in the world. But look at what Carlsen does from these screenshots here!

Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Playing chess with Kasparov
Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Carlsen getting “distracted,” but not really
Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Diffused thinking to study the moves of others

Oakley has pointed out that Carlsen uses diffused thinking. Focused thinking takes advantage of your prefrontal cortex to focus on one specific set of data and one specific problem. But it sort of doesn’t let the rest of your brain become activated.

A lot of ideas come from different nodes of your brain connecting different completely unrelated ideas in new and different ways. That’s the diffused mode of thinking. So when you’re learning something new, you want to use diffused thinking. You can grok the present problem and then tie it to other nodes in your brain to understand it. If you only try to focus on the problem and do nothing else, you’re going to have a lot harder time solving the problem.

Gauge your classes

The goal is to measure the speed at which your professor moves and at which you’re able to understand. If your professor tends to go too fast and you can’t really understand everything he’s presenting, then you want to take some steps to fix that problem.

One thing you could do is read through the chapter before a lecture. Maybe if you have some material that outlines what’s going to begin the lecture, you can look at the most relevant parts of the textbook to prime your brain for the lecture.

Another thing you can do if the class pace is just too fast is to simply ask your professor for help or ask questions in the middle of class. Professors are there to help you and you should take advantage of that.

Start alone to recognize confusion

When you do a problem set with a partner you’re kind of robbing yourself the opportunity to really pinpoint gaps in your understanding. If two people are going at the same problem at the same time, one person might be able to do the entire thing. The other person can sort of kind of get where the first person is coming from. You’re going to latch on to their answer and say “yeah I sort of get that” and then you’re going to move on. But if you do it alone then you’re going to be able to pinpoint those areas of confusion and address them before you get into a group.

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11 Secrets to Memorize Things Quicker than Others

Infographic Memorization Tips

Have you seen the movie Limitless? The main character found a special pill that allowed him to recall all experience and memorize things quicker whenever he needed to.

Too bad this isn’t true for real life! Unfortunately, we forget a lot of information over the course of our lives.

In this post we’ll share with you some simple memorization tips and a universal formula that will retrieve any information from memory when you need it. Ready? Let’s get started!

First of all, it’s important to remember your brain is like a hard drive. The space is limited! Remember that Sherlock Holmes couldn’t name all the planets of the solar system. He wasn’t stupid, it’s just that he was too smart to have such irrelevant information in his memory.

Instead, Sherlock deliberately erased facts he would never need from his memory. We all do this to some degree. Some of us are less conscious about it than Sherlock, but your brain deletes unneeded information for you regardless. This protects you from overloading with information. That’s why all new data is stored in the short-term memory not the long one. If you don’t repeat it or use it you forget it very quickly.

A German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus researched the memory and its mechanisms. He described the forgetting curve by showing that just one hour after learning something new we forget more than half of the learned information.

One day later we remember only about 30%. You get the idea!

So how to remember everything? There is a memorization technique called spaced repetition to keep some information in your head for a longer time when you need something in your long-term memory.

Forced memorization is not very effective in this case because your brain can’t make sense of the information quickly and form strong associations. It all depends on the reason why you are learning something.

There are two big strategies to consider to memorize things quicker:

The first is when you need to learn the information quickly, use it once, and forget most of it. This looks like a typical exam preparation.

To memorize something quickly, repeat the information right after learning it. The second repetition should be after 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t need to return to the information between repetitions. Instead, just rest and do something different to let your brain relax. Then repeat the learned material the third time after 6 to 8 hours. You should have the final repetition 24 hours after the first contact with the information.

But how do you memorize something if you want to remember things for a long time? If you need to extend the memorization period, here’s the plan:

a. The first repetition should be right after learning just like in the previous technique. Then repeat the material after 20 to 30 minutes.

b. The third repetition should be only after one day.

c. The next one comes after two to three weeks.

d. The final round is after two to three months.

This way you can learn something for a very long time. The brain thinks that if you return to the information it means that it’s necessary, so it doesn’t get erased.

With that said, here are eleven simple tips that will help you memorize things quicker!

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1. Try to understand what you learn

You probably know the feeling when you’re learning something but you don’t understand. The information usually turns into a nightmare because it looks like learning a poem that has no rhyme.

Another bad thing about learning something you don’t understand is that

if you forget some part of it you will not be able to continue. This is because you have only memorized the order of words and not their actual meaning. Instead, you should read the entire piece of information and figure out what the main point or points are.

Try to retell what you have read using your own words. Do it as simply as you can. If you are successful that means you understood the information and now it will be way easier to memorize the details.

2. Learn the most necessary information

If you feel like you have too much on your plate, set your priorities correctly. Decide what you have to know and what you can do without just fine. Focus on the key parts of what you need to memorize. If you find some time to devote to the less important information, that’s great but it can be done later.

3. Embrace the serial position effect

No this is not when you position your Cheerios on the right side of the table and your homework on the left when learning something new! Things that are at the beginning and the end are memorized the best. Use this effect to your advantage. Sort the information so that the key parts are at the beginning and at the end.

4. Interference theory rocks!

Switch your attention from one topic to another and from one activity to another. For example, you’re preparing for a public talk. You’ve learned the text for 15 minutes. Now it’s time to take a break and rest every 15 to 20 minutes. This is the period when attention is at its best.

Unfortunately, people usually stop being attentive during this time. The best thing you can do is switch to something completely different like playing the guitar or blasting bush campers on Fortnite.

Another thing you should be careful with is learning similar information. Interference theory suggests that similar memories get mixed up and become a mess. That’s why if you know you’re about to learn something that at least remotely resembles what you’ve already learned, we recommend taking a long break before starting something new.

5. Learn opposite things

Opposites are easily memorized in pairs. If you’re learning a new

language, work on learning at the beginning of the day and at night too. This way, you will build a connection between these two events in your mind. If you forget one study session, the second one will help you recall.

6. Build your own mind palace

This is about Sherlock Holmes again. Do you remember how he could travel in his mind palace for hours looking for the necessary information?

The idea is to associate items to memorize with a certain object. If you are in your room, try to connect the thing you are learning to something in your room. Recall the objects a few times after that to recall what the room looks like in your memory and repeat the things you associated with each object.

Want to make this technique even better? Divide all the concepts you need to memorize into a few parts. Then place these parts in different parts of your apartment. Better yet, place them in different places in your city.

This way the memorized information won’t be something dull or boring. Instead, it will be associated with some other memories like smells of places and people you saw there.

7. Use nail words

The point of this technique is to nail one learned thing to another. If you need to memorize the French word for nail, you should also look up wall, hammer, and other related words that you can logically connect to nail.

8. Make up stories

If you need to memorize a lot of information in a particular order, try to put the pieces into a story. It’s important that the pieces are connected to each other with some kind of plot. This way, if you accidentally forget something, you can always recall what was supposed to happen next in the story.

Yes, this might seem like you need even more effort but it’s true! Believe us, it works wonders!

9. Use a tape recorder

Record the information somehow you are learning and listen to the recording a few times. We don’t think anyone uses tape recorders anymore, but you get the point!

Yes, it might take you some time to get used to the sound of your voice. It might seem strange or unpleasant in the beginning, but this method is handy because it allows all types of memory to work.

First, you read the information so you can see it with your eyes. Then you hear it with your ears. The more contact you have with what you are learning, the better you can memorize it!

10. Visualize

Use your body language when learning. This will help you trigger your muscle memory. Use expressive gestures to recite to yourself what you just learned in front of a mirror. Emotions like anger and awe have the strongest effect on us. With a little acting, this technique will internalize your studies.

11. Choose only the best materials

Don’t use outdated books and methods of learning. Things have changed a lot since textbooks were written. Don’t waste your time on something that may turn out to be wrong. Go online and check the most recent information on the subject.

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StudyMate: Smart And Secure Strategies To Survive The SAT Showdown (Part 1)

SAT Survival

If there’s one test that fuels the anxiety of millions of students around the United States, it’s the SAT. Students and parents alike invest tons of money, time, and energy into preparing for the test that will decide their fates, and many people prepare the wrong way. Contrary to popular belief (and all that bad advice you’ve gotten) the SAT is all about strategy. Taking the SAT is like going to war (just go with it), and if you’re going to war, then you need an effective plan. Take a look at these smart SAT strategies to help you prepare for battle and ready yourself for the big test.

 

1. Gather Some Intel

Whether you’re taking a subject test or the full-blown SAT, you need to know what kinds of questions you’re going to run into. Go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a couple of books with complete tests that you can practice with every few weeks. If you search online, you can find actual tests from previous years that you can practice on. Before you even THINK about registering for the SAT, take a practice test and see how you do. With any luck, you’ll do pretty badly, and that’s the perfect place to start your training!

 

2. Get The Lay Of The Land

I cannot stress this enough: The SAT is all about strategy. You’ve got to know when to jump, when to slide, when to duck, and when to run for your life! Study the test format. The SAT is written with the easiest questions at the beginning and gets progressively harder as you go. Study the wording of each question. SAT writers love to use seven words to express what you could probably say with three. Get used to the language and the way certain questions are asked. The quicker you can read and anticipate what you’re being asked to do, the quicker you can answer and move on!

 

3. Words Win Wars

You know you’re in deep trouble when you’re taking the reading portion of the test, and you run into a word you don’t know.

Like “nadir”. Or “halcyon”.

You can try to guess the meaning through context clues, but if you can’t, you’re sunk. Get some flash cards and learn the definitions of just five SAT words per day. 5 per day turns into 35 per week! Also, take the time to read anything you can: books, articles, journal entries, essays, and try to figure out the author’s main point as quickly as you can. If you’re unprepared, the reading section is going to be a pain! Arm yourselves!

 

4. Meet Calculator, Your New Best Friend

In this battle, you’re allowed to bring only one weapon (besides your brain), and it’s your trusty scientific calculator. Your mastery of your calculator can potentially slow you down or give you a much needed speed boost! Take some quality time to learn every function, every shortcut, and every formula you need for the test. It will also clear room in your brain for other information you’ll need to memorize. Make sure you know which situations call for which formulas, but make your calculator do the heavy lifting.

 

5. Train Yourself

Now that you know the test inside out, learned a lot of big words, and bonded with your calculator, it’s time to begin your training. Set aside about 1 to 2 hours every other week to sit down and take a practice test from beginning to end. If you like, you can simulate actual test conditions to allow yourself to adjust. Take a test early in the morning, bring some snacks with you, close yourself off in a cold room, whatever you have to do! Pay special attention to the way you manage your time. Time is such an influential factor in the SAT experience—many students feel rushed at times and completely abandon their strategy in order to finish as many questions as possible. Make your time work for you!

 

6. Assemble A Survival Kit

On the day of the test, you shouldn’t be wondering where all your stuff is. Take a few minutes to gather everything you need. In your kit, you should include:

  • A bottle of water
  • Your calculator
  • A couple of extra pencils
  • An eraser
  • Some (a lot of) snacks
  • A watch (yeah, the ones with the hands that you wear on your wrist)

Put ’em all in your favorite bag and store them close by so you can just grab it and leave. Simple.

 

7. Energize

Energy is your greatest resource when taking the SAT. It’s not time, intelligence, or anything else. When you’re sitting in that classroom, you’ve got to have a clear mind and sharp focus. What does this mean for you? For a start, eat a good breakfast! Get plenty of sleep the night before the test! Do all the healthy things you’re supposed to! You need to be in tip-top condition, so take care of yourself! Don’t leave anything to chance!

 

Preparing for the SAT is about dividing your attention between learning the material and developing your test taking strategy. Even though mastery of these two aspects will leave you in the best shape to perform well on the big test, you’re not out of the woods yet! In Part 2, we’ll show you how to handle yourself during the test! Stop by StudyGate.com for more helpful tips and homework help!

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StudyMate: How To (Quickly) Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Research. Finding credible sources.  The most terrifying words you’ll hear in your entire academic career. Just hearing them made me go into denial:

 

“What? What do you mean I have to form an opinion? Wait, wait, you mean I can’t just say whatever I feel like? I have to look for…facts and evidence?”

 

Yes. You’ve got to do all that, and I know it can be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be so terrible, though! Good research is systematic. It follows a certain logic as you develop what you want to say. You might be dreading all that time you’ll spend combing through textbooks and clickin’ around the internet, but if you follow what I’m about to tell you…

…and really focus…

…you can finish your research in a day. In. A. Day.

Look!

 

Step One: Take A Position!

Before you even begin your research, you’ve got to know what you want to say. Take some time to read the assignment, understand the expectations, and develop an opinion on the subject. This is going to make things a lot easier for you in the long run. Let’s just say your topic is:

“Is climate change real?”

Decide if your answer is yes or no, and begin thinking about your reasons. It sounds obvious, I know, but SOME people have been known to just pick the easiest standpoint to get the assignment done as quickly as possible. Don’t be that person. Think about it!

 

Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Step Two: Find A…Book? At The…Library?

Yes. They exist for a reason. You can find the most credible sources of knowledge in actual books! Imagine that! Decide what your answer is, then take an hour or two to look for a few library books about your subject. Look through them and pay special attention to certain sections that can help support your main point. Then, take them with you and refer back to them as your prime research materials. Looking for a book should always be your first step; they can help you think of more specific things to say, which makes your research more specific as result.

 

Step Three: Find Some Journals

Next, you’ll want to search for some academic journals. In my opinion, some of the best academic journal databases are EBSCOHost, JSTOR, and Google Scholar, but there are so many others, so experiment and find out which one you like best. Your college or university will most likely have a subscription to many of these databases, so go crazy. Remember those specific points you got from those books? You can use those to search for articles devoted to those points!

So if you’re arguing that climate change isn’t real, and changes in sea level is one of your main points, you’ll look for those articles that support both your ideas and those in your books.  As you find more articles that support them, you’ll continue to refine your own argument. Aha! We’re getting more and more precise as we go!

 

Step Four: Yeah Alright, Now You Can Run To The Internet

At this point, you couldn’t get more specific if you tried. Now, it’s all about proving your point. Look for quality sources on the internet. You’ll be looking for quick statistics, helpful numbers, and short quotes that you can sprinkle into your paper.

At this stage, you’d be looking for numbers that reflect changing or consistent sea levels to support your previous research. I know they’re the easiest to find, but internet sources should be the last thing you look at. Anybody can go online and publish anything they want without having it reviewed. Keep an eye out for credible sites—ones where you’ll find articles with a clear author you can cite, and who has cited information themselves. When you leave those sources for the end of your research, you already know what your paper is about, and now it’s just a matter of finding figures and evidence that support all those books and journals!

 

Step Five: Trim The Fat

So now you’ve got bunch of books, academic journals, websites, and a rough draft of your research paper. Great! Now start cutting the stuff you don’t need. A lot of professors give you a minimum of number of sources they want for each medium—2 books, 3 journals, 2 websites, etc. If you’re going for the minimum, then make sure you have the best material you can find! If you’re going for only 2 books, they better give you a TON of information and support every point you make. You should never wonder whether to use a source or not. Make them work for you!

 

 

And that’s it! When you’ve got all your sources ready, make sure you cite them all correctly! If you don’t know how to cite, you can visit the OWL Purdue website to brush up on all the different styles. As I said earlier, if you follow these tips and stay focused, you can have your research done in a day (I’m serious)! Now go! To get more helpful academic tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com!

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