Came across a NYT book review with some good points on brain science and learning effectively this morning. A rather relevant article to share given exam fever is ongoing now, my issues with summative assessments (tests and exams) notwithstanding. Plus I now have my own oh-so-effective numbered blog post! 😉
1. Give the brain the variation, movement and periodic breaks it needs. Don’t waste your brain energy on trying to maintain concentration by sitting for long stretches of time. Instead, give the brain the variation it needs to function better. Change your environment from time to time or introduce new stimulus to create associations so you can remember what you have learned later.
2. Signal to the brain that the information is important. The brain will not register something studied only once, no matter how concentrated the studying is, as important. This means your brain will find it difficult to recall the information later if you learn it once and leave it. This also implies that last minute cramming for the assessment tomorrow might help immediate test scores but is likely to be a waste of time in the long run when the learning cannot be recalled.
3. Talk about the learned information to signal its importance to the brain. Role-play, teach your friend what you have learned. Test yourself and make notes.
4. Revise historical events, vocabulary words, science definitions and mathematical equations one or two days after learning it to signal to the brain that it needs to remember them.
5. Strategise revision by aiming to study twice with a regular interval in between if the test is a week away and revising one a week if the test is a month away.
6. Sleep strategically. Based on research, the first half of the sleep cycle helps us retain facts while the second half is crucial for analytical and problem-solving skills. Depending on the nature of the subject assessed, learners should go to bed and rise accordingly: Go to bed early so the brain can remember best and wake up early to review information retained OR Study before going to bed and sleep longer so the brain can work as you sleep.
An end-note to learners:
Despite all that is said, nothing can replace hard work so
WORK HARD & WORK SMART!
All the best!
This post is dedicated to Mister M and everyone facing the inevitable E.X.A.M.