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Five Scientific Steps to Ace Your Next Exam | Scott H Young

Make Sure You Really Understand

Make Sure You Really Understand

Passing and failing rest on whether you understood some important ideas.

Your top priority should be to understand the core concepts. Identify the core concepts and make sure you can explain them without looking at the material.

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The best routine for studying
The best routine for studying

It is often unhelpful to hear that the perfect routine is the one you can stick to to help you reach your goals. As everyone is different in personality, constraints, and preferences, the ideal met...

The ingredient of the perfect studying routine
  1. Instructions can be in the form of lessons, books, or tutoring. They are useful to avoid wasting time with trial-and-error.
  2. Retrieval involves deliberately remembering the knowledge, not just passively reviewing it.
  3. Spacing is repeated reviews, spread out over time. It forms part of a regular routine where you cover old knowledge along with new.
  4. Understanding. The goal of learning is for ideas to make sense. Explain the concept to yourself. When you get stuck, find a textbook or teacher to help you.
  5. Feedback. You don't have to get feedback from other people. When you can get accurate feedback that doesn't need another person, go there first.
Fixing your current studying routine

To perfect your studying routine, look at your current routine, and see what's missing. For example:

  • An amateur painter will grow faster if they add instruction to their existing knowledge.
  • Learning history by reading a lot: Why not write an essay or converse with other history buffs?
  • You work correctly through a course, but don't space your learning: A ten-minute pop-quiz on previous topics can help you remember and save hours later.
Ditch Your Learning Style

Learning styles (visual, auditory etc.) have actually little impact on our ability to learn.

The best way to learn depends on what you’re trying to learn in the first place. The ...

Find Meaning In Learning

If you try to force yourself to just memorize random facts, you’re likely to forget them. 

We will most likely remember only the information that was meaningful to us, that we’ve been able to connect to our lives and our experiences.

Learn by Doing

We learn best when we perform the tasks we’re trying to learn. 

No matter how good your grades were at college, most of your learning takes place once you enter the workplace and start applying what you've learned.

Connect & Link (The Link Method)

This memorization technique involves creating associations between items in a list and assigning images to each connection to help you memorize better. 

For instance, your account...

Make a Story (The Story Method)

This approach is really similar to the Link Method. While you create a bunch of different images between each two items using the Link Method, you combine everything into one big picture with the Story Method. This technique helps you memorize the sequence of the images and hence the order of the items. 

Associate Objects with Familiar Locations (The Loci Method)
You can use this memorization method by associating terms or list items with familiar locations. 

Make these images as absurd, comical, sensory (e.g. can incorporate sounds, smells, tastes), and vivid as possible for best results. This is a centuries-old method started by ancient Romans and is still used today by many World Memory Champions.