How to Study Harder

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What successful college students do differently
Published on January 31, 2012 by Nate Kornell, Ph.D. in Everybody Is Stupid Except You Good students don't just study harder, they study smarter. A study published this week identifies some habits of successful college students. I'll describe the new study shortly, but first: How should students study? A growing body of cognitive psychology research emphasizes the value of two principles: Principle one is space your studying out over time. If you study something and then study it again right away, it's fresh in your mind the second time. You'll probably feel like you've learned it well. Don't be fooled. Instead of restudying right away, wait a while (e.g., an hour, a day, a week) and then study again. You'll learn far more. Spacing works because when something's fresh in your mind you don't learn much from studying it; you learn more when you've had time to forget it, which allows you to strengthen the memory anew. Principle two is test yourself. People test themselves when they study with flashcards, and doing a physics problem set is almost like an open-book test. But when it comes time to read a textbook or a novel, most students don't test themselves. This is unfortunate. Testing gets us actively involved in our learning and makes us retrieve information from our own memories. Testing requires effort, but it pays off in spades. Related Articles

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