We’ve all been there; you studied for four hours straight yet the next day when someone asks you a question you can’t remember a thing. What in the world happened to all that information? Did the lightning thief steal it all when you were asleep? Maybe your kid brother was his accomplice. And maybe (this is the one all of us like) it was the devil. Tah. It’s you. Just you.
Bad study habits produce bad retention. Know that there’s no point studying if you don’t remember, so make sure you are studying actively. Today I am sharing eight reasons why your retention might be low and some quick tips on how to fix the problem.
1. You are studying like you’re reading a newspaper.
Why are you studying? Be honest here, to learn yeah, but mostly to pass your tests and exams. That means you must remember and to remember you need to make an intentional impression on your brain. When you pick up your school textbooks actual meanbusiness. You need this stuff. You need the important stuff. You can figure that out by referring to points your lecturer made in class and by reading the introduction and conclusion of a chapter before reading anything else. That will give you a solid ground on what to concentrate on.
2. You are studying like it’s a marathon.
This is not a marathon. You don’t have to study for long stretches. In fact the longer you study the lesser your retention. Study for short burst of time (20-40mins max) and do a review or test of what you’ve read. Try summarizing it all. Or making bullet notes of the important stuff, like definitions and specific values or diagrams. You can also write down what you think, things that come to your mind as you read. The important thing is to make sure you mind is actively engaged. Long stretches are no good. Take breaks and get back to work, if you have a lot to cover.
3. You think you can study and do other things.
Lie. Lie. Lie. When you want to study, just study. Don’t add other activities, like TV, Social Media, gist, music. That won’t help. You won’t get the best from that time. You have to concentrate. Your brain works best when it’s doing just one thing. Let that one thing be studying. Although some music is good for studying (there will be a post on that soon), I’d say stay away from all music with lyric.
4. You don’t study daily.
Look, nothing is going to stick if you don’t visit it daily. Start small. Study everyday uninterrupted for 20 minutes. And come tell me how much your life has changed in two weeks. No, really, I’d love to hear from you. The point is though, you can’t go wrong with doing something daily. You’ll get better. A good way to make this habit stick is by giving yourself a reward each time you successfully study for the amount of time you allotted yourself. Probably Instagram, or watch a movie. Or a chocolate bar. Anything that will register some kind of feel-good tingle every time you do your work. That will keep the habit alive.
5. You don’t make notes.
Notice that I did not say take, I said make notes. Notes are brief summaries of what you understand. If you don’t make notes, you have no record and your brain isn’t performing any task of rearranging the information you’ve processed the way you understand it back on paper. This work of sorts that you assign to your brain helps it remember. Make good notes, avoid notes that are word for word from the text book. Try to write it in your own words. Except its an an important definition and there are keywords to keep in mind.
6. You don’t ask questions.
The best way to make anything stick is to test yourself. Ask questions. Set tests for yourself. It’s why schools set exams and tests for us in the first place. For everything you study, have two sets of question prepared. A) Those things you don’t understand B) Questions to be answer by you later. This will definitely boost your memory. And at least you’ll be able to keep track of those things you are forgetting so you can pay more attention to them
7. You don’t revise or try to remember what you’ve read.
This is the worst mistake you can make—totally discarding a topic or area you’ve studied. Make it an habit to try and remember things you’ve read before. Task yourself to remember them, if you don’t revise. Try over and over again. This way you’re making a conscious effort to making your brain see it as important.
8. You think reading the material over and over will make you remember.
This won’t work. When you study and how many times you study isn’t nearly as important as how you study. Reading over and over again is a waste of time. Study smart. Study actively.
Did you find this helpful? Do you think there are other things that get in the way of retention? Tell me in the comments.
Have a wonderful weekend ahead.