Secrets of successful learning


If you subscribe to the New Scientist, then you’ll have seen the article last Friday with ten top tips for successful learning – very timely, as exams approach.

Here’s a link which sadly only works if you are a subscriber to New Scientist, so if that’s you, click away and read no further!

The current issue is still on sale this week so it could be ¬£3.90 very well spent…

However if you don’t have access to the article, then here some tips to help learning and recall.

1. Know when to learn and when to rest Рare you a morning, afternoon or evening person? Sleep helps to consolidate memory so bear that in mind. Studies have shown that there is increased activity in the hippocampus region, involved in thinking, during a rest break after studying.

2. Quiz yourself – interestingly, and rather counter-intuitively, it seems that trying to retrieve the information you need from your brain is as useful as actually finding it in terms of later recall. Recall is also improved if you think you might have to teach the subject to somebody else later, so even pretending to do that can have quite an impact.

3. Learn with a buddy – ideally, once you have studied something by yourself, get together with a group of three to six people and share your collective wisdom.

4. Play video games if you are learning a musical instrument – apparently this trains your brain to form accurate brain templates for hand-eye co-ordination.

5. Forgive yourself for procrastinating as long as it’s not a regular occurrence – and then get on and do something – self forgiveness helps you to deal with negative feelings about yourself so you can move on. However, beware: if you are a serial procrastinator, self-forgiveness can just consolidate the cycle of procrastination. If this is you, then start small – take a positive step to exercise willpower in any area of your life and then celebrate your success before moving on to the next step.

Let us know what you think – and good luck with your studying over the Easter break!

Philippa Hewett.