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How To Study: 3 Popular Revision Techniques You Should Avoid

How To Study: 3 Popular Revision Techniques You Should Avoid


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The Art Of Studying: Revision

The Art Of Studying: Revision

During studies, how we revise what we have learned is a personal preference, which we incorporate after trial and error and what feels intuitive or effective to us.

According to research, the popular revising methods like rereading, highlighting and summarizing don’t seem to work as effectively as previously thought.



Revision: Popular But Low-Utility Techniques

  • Rereading: A widely followed method of passively studying again what is already studied, rereading has been proven to be ineffective and inefficient.
  • Highlighting: Another popular method is proven by the study to be a mere ‘safety blanket’, and may hinder our learning by disconnecting certain aspects of information, due to us paying attention to only the highlighted stuff.
  • Summarizing: Making notes seems to be an extremely reliable revision method, but is proven to be partially effective for people who are skilled in the art of summarizing information, and not for others.


How To Revise: Active Recall

Active recall and self-questioning (Quiz Mode), which trains the brain to fetch information, are the best way to retain the study material and form connections.



Purpose of taking notes

Note-taking serves one simple purpose: to help you remember information. 

Although we might associate note-taking with school, it's something most of us continue doing for the bul...

Keep your notes simple

Keep them short, but have enough triggers in the keywords to jumpstart your memory when you look at them again:

  • Stick to keywords and very short sentences.
  • Write out your notes in your own words.
  • Find a note-taking style to fit both your needs and the speakers.
  • Write down what matters.

Outdated techniques

Rereading your notes, highlighting them, underlining them, and even summarizing them  - all take a lot of your time.

Better methods include taking breaks and spreading out your studying (known as distributed practice), and taking practice tests (which isn't really applicable outside of school).

Laptops vs pen and paper

In an experiment, students were given Ted Talks to watch and were told to take notes, half with laptops, the other with pen and paper.

  • The students using a keyboard were more likely to ...

Recording lectures

Recording lectures to replay later has shown to have no added benefits compared to paying attention the first time without the possibility of watching it again.

  • The advantage of watching it again is that you don't have to worry about taking notes and can focus your full attention on it.
  • The benefit of taking notes is that it forces you to process the information and think about it before you can summarize it.

Productive professionals

One research survey, involving 20 000 individuals from six continents, wanted to find out why some people are more productive than others. 

They found professionals with the highest prod...

Productive habits

Highly productive professionals share the same clusters of habits:

  • They plan their work based on their top priorities and then acted with a definite objective
  • They develop effective techniques for managing a high volume of information and tasks
  • They understand the needs of their colleagues, enabling short meetings, responsive communications, and clear directions.

Age and productivity

Age and seniority highly correlate with personal productivity.

Habits of seniors include:

  • Developing routines for low-value activities.
  • Managing message flow
  • Running effective meetings
  • Delegating tasks

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