This article covers different easy study techniques you can use to make learning material easier for you. Hopefully these will be helpful to you.
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Time Blocking or Pomodoro Technique
The time blocking technique, also known as time boxing, is a helpful scheduling technique that may make it easier for you to study. Time blocking allows you to create blocks of time based on how much time you can spend on a specific task or assignment that day. I have a free time blocking template you can download HERE.
The pomodoro technique is a variant of time blocking. Both techniques allow you to schedule a set amount of time to dedicate to a task. It is great for people who find themselves getting burnt out often or people who find themselves getting distracted when they take breaks from studying.
The pomodoro study technique adds short breaks to your study schedule at set intervals. Each block of studying is called a “pomodoro”. The pomodoros typically last 25 minutes and they are followed by a 5 minute break. After multiple pomodoros, usually 4, you can take a longer break. You can buy a physical pomodoro timer HERE.
There are various mnemonic devices you can use to help you encode information in your memory. Pegword, method of loci (memory palace), imagery, and acronym are all popular forms of mnemonics that you can incorporate into your studying.
The pegword technique is one of the best techniques for memorizing information that is presented in lists. Each item on the list is given a short rhyme and is associated with an image to help you remember the sequence.
Method of loci mnemonics work very well for visual learners. To use the method of loci, you choose a place you are very familiar with and associate different pieces of information with different objects found in that place. Then to recall the information you imagine yourself in that place, interacting with the objects. The method of imagery also requires assigning images to pieces of information.
Acronyms are when you take the first letter of each word in a block of information and you rearrange it to form a new word or phrase that will help you remember.
Testing myself has been one of the best study techniques I have tried. It is something that has worked well for every subject. There are various ways you can do this. You can develop your own questions based on the class materials. I develop my own questions by thinking about what potential questions a professor may ask while I am reading over key material. If you can only implement one of these easy study techniques, I highly recommend this one.
Another way to use active recall is to add more practice problems to your study routine. Some textbooks have practice problems at the end of each chapter. I always try searching for PDF worksheets on whatever topic I am covering in class. I have found that is a great way to find additional practice questions.
Chunking is breaking large amounts of information into smaller concepts. This allows you to organize information in a way that is easier for you to remember. Mind maps and concept maps are systems that may make chunking easier for you.
Mind maps can be a useful study tool for visual learners. To use this method, you can create diagrams that allow you to visualize the information you are trying to study. The bits of information you are trying to learn branch out from the central concept. This can show you the relationship between different pieces of information.
Concept maps are very similar to mind maps, but in concept maps the ideas do not necessarily branch outwards. Concept maps can have more than one major concept and all the bits of information can be interconnected. The lines connecting the information on concept maps may note how the information is related.
Spaced repetition is a technique that counteracts the forgetting curve. It allows you to revisit the information right when you are about to forget it. This allows you to revisit information you are struggling with more often and information you already know less often. Revisiting information at intervals has been shown to flatten the forgetting curve which leads to better retention of information.
You can practice spaced repetition using physical flashcards or by using “Anki”. “Anki” is a flashcard program that allows you to create your own flashcards or download premade flashcards to review at intervals. The “Anki” app is free on desktop and on Android. It is currently $24.99 in the iOS app store. You can download the desktop version HERE.
To study using brain dumps, make a list of concepts you have covered. Then you can devote a page to each concept and just write everything you can remember about the concept. You can draw diagrams that relate to the topic, write down vocabulary, write down key points; ect. I find that this helps me visualize how much of the content I actually remember. This is one of my favorite easy study techniques.
Self Referencing or Teaching Someone Else (Feynman Technique)
Trying to teach someone else the information you are learning can be a great way to reinforce your knowledge. It may make it easier for you to remember the information. I like to break difficult concepts into simple ideas. When I do this, I find that I am able to recognize concepts even when they are in a different format on exams.
It is also a great way to ensure that you actually understand the material. If you are able to explain a complex topic to someone who has little to no prior knowledge in that area it is likely that you truly understand the concept.
The rote memorization technique can include rewatching lectures, rereading notes, stating the information repeatedly, rewriting the notes or other forms of repetition. Rote memorization is not effective when used alone. It is best when paired with other techniques. I personally like to rewrite my notes a day or more after I originally wrote them. It really helps me reinforce the information.
I try to incorporate active recall when I rewrite my notes to make it more effective. Rereading subheadings and trying to fill in my notes from memory alone is a great way to do this. After I write as much as I can from memory, I refer to the original note to see what I missed. This type of retrieval is known as “cued recall”.
Hopefully some of these easy study techniques are helpful to you.