Have you ever found yourself stunned while studying and face problems of not being able to retain the information?
This is a common cognitive problem. However, by manipulating your study pattern and style you can train your brain to retain the information more efficiently for longer periods of time.
Here are a few tips to help you retain information when studying.
- Write Down The Concepts
Writing the piece of information that you want to retain is a very effective method as processes of writing and reading occur in different parts of the brain.
When you are writing during or after reviewing your content, you are actually storing the same information in multiple regions of your brain.
You don’t have to write everything, just try to write down the key concepts or the important details of the topic in your own words.
Over the years, during my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, I have found that the old fashioned way of taking notes and writing information by hand is more effective than typing or using digital notes. This observation is also supported by many studies and surveys.
I have also developed a habit of keeping a keynote diary in addition to regular notebooks. In this diary, I write the key concepts or the important information related to the topics that I study or learn and it has proven to be quite an asset as well.
Whenever I need to refresh any topic I just go through the keynotes in my diary rather than studying the whole topic over again.
- Effective Environment
One of most important factors affecting your retention power at any given time is your surroundings.
Some people can retain more information when they study alone in a peaceful environment while others are more efficient when they do group studies or discuss and share their concepts with others.
I feel more efficient and comfortable while studying alone in a quiet and peaceful environment.
- Avoid Distractions
Unnecessary interruptions on your mobile or laptop especially from social media in the form of notifications can easily add up to big-time distractions.
This is a major problem that I found with myself as these distractions do not get limited to checking the notifications instead I often find myself scrolling the newsfeed and watching videos etc. while studying.
The best way to avoid such distractions is to either put your phone or laptop on silent mode or disconnect from the internet during study time.
Even better if you can leave such distracting devices in another room during your study time.
- Focus on a single topic at a time
Jumping between subjects or thinking of some other topics while studying one will only make you mix up things.
It is better to clear up your mind and focus on the topic or subject at hand and avoid jumping from topic to topic.
- Try to capture the concept
It is a proven fact that simply repeating sentences over and over again is not an efficient method for adding information in your long-term memory. Instead,
make sure that you understand what you are studying and try to relate it to real-world applications.
- Know your learning style
Some students are known for being able to understand the concepts quickly and retain them when delivered in lecture format.
Other students find it easier to understand the concepts from the book, and still others are efficient in learning and retaining what they see or do by themselves.
To know which learning style is best for you, you can check out our post: How Best Do You Learn?
- Apply Your Knowledge or Teach it to Others
Teaching others what you just learned can be a very useful method of knowledge retention.
It is cited in many studies that young people retain 80% or more of what they have learned if they teach it to others or use it practically.
While teaching others, you are actually copying the concept of information to multiple parts of your brain which are related to cognition.
- Use Mnemonic Strategy
In the cases where you need to retain the information as such, try to use the Mnemonic strategy.
Mnemonics have been proven to be a very useful technique of retaining important information especially for medical students and students learning new languages.
Mnemonics work by summarizing and simplifying the information for you so that it can be easier to retain.
Being a medical student myself, I have successfully used this strategy very often. In fact, there is also a long compiled list of Medical mnemonics available on Wikipedia.
- Take Breaks
Try to control the impulse of rushing through whole content all at once. It is important that you take breaks especially when you are stuck at any specific topic and are not able to get a hold of it.
Microlearning is a new concept in the field of education and is becoming a popular way of educating people because it has a very high rate of retention and is a kind of continuous learning.
Social media usage is increasing day by day and every day while going through social media, we watch a lot of short videos or see images full of information.
The habit of using social media can be turned into a very useful method of learning and retaining information.
The best way to learn by using the concept of microlearning is to follow or like the channels or pages which regularly share the information or content related to your fields of studies.
For example, The Student Shed has started a “Did You Know?” series where short, interesting BJC and BGCSE study notes are shared on our social media channels regularly.
In conclusion, if you find that you struggle with retaining information while studying, take some time to adjust your study method and try out one or more of these tips.
Until next time, happy learning