5 strategies for remembering everything you learn

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5 strategies for remembering everything you learn
If you're going to learn anything, you need two kinds of prior knowledge: * Knowledge about the subject at hand, like math, history, or programming * Knowledge about how learning actually works The bad news: Our education system often skips one of them.


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2 kinds of prior knowledge

... you need two kinds of prior knowledge:

  • Knowledge about the subject at hand (math, history, or programming).
  • Knowledge about how learning actually works.

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Force yourself to recall

When learning is difficult, you're doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you stronger. 

When you keep trying to ...

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It's a strategy of mixing up the type of problems you solve when you're testing yourself.

That way, the testing conditions are more similar to real life, where you first have to figure out wh...

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Don't fall for fluency

You're experiencing fluency when you're reading something and it feels easy.

For example: you're at the airport and you're trying to remember which gate your flight is. You loo...

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Connect new things to old things

When you're weaving in new threads into your pre-existing web of knowledge, you're elaborating.

The more you can explain the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge the more connecti...

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When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy and self-confidence.

As a result, they put more effort into what they're doing and what they learn.

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"Learning is deeper and more durable when it's effortful... Learning that's easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow."

 -  Make It Stick: The Science Of Suc...

Bring it back from memory

Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.

When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain. 

Connect new ideas

... to what you already know.

When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.

For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.

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Learning how to learn

Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.

Understanding what is learning and how our memory works wil...

Learning skills

Learning how to learn is critical for everyone. Most of us have to deal with a changing world and to learn how to manage tons of new information.

However, most of our learning methods are outdated and far from optimal. It may even be giving us an illusion of learning, like re-reading and highlighting that don't provide proper feedback to show what you haven't learned.

Focused and Diffuse Mode

Focused and diffuse modes provide two models for how we develop, elaborate, deepen and broaden connections. Both methods are important.

  • The focused mode of learning is about bringing related concepts together into a unit, called a chunk. 
  • The diffuse mode operates through a wider net of connecting general ideas across different fields. We use this diffuse mode while we sleep, exercise or daydream.

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Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

Take notes by hand

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Chunk your study sessions

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

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