Study More Effectively With Scientifically-Tested Techniques

Heading back to university and want to make your study habits more efficient? Adopt these scientifically-proven techniques.

Studying picture from Shutterstock

Let’s be clear here: while these techniques have all been tested in research studies, they’re not a substitute for the basics of good study: being organised, working to a schedule, and keeping yourself fit and well-rested. With those basics in place, these additional tricks can give you an edge, but they won’t make up for a semester of neglect and alcohol.

Study Before Bedtime

A 2012 study found that people asked to memorise a list at 9pm did better at recalling disconnected items the next day than people given the same information at 9am. The lesson here? While study before bedtime won’t always be effective, it can be helpful if you’re exploring an entirely new subject area. Picture: mrehan

Drink (The Right Amount Of) Coffee

A study earlier this year found that taking caffeine pills improved memorisation of images (handy if you’re having to deal with anatomy diagrams). The effectiveness varied with the amount of caffeine: a single cup will help, but drinking more is likely to lead to side effects which offset that memory benefit. Coffee picture from Shutterstock

Learn An Unrelated New Skill

Yeah, we know: if you’re trying to memorise something for an exam, it seems counter-intuitive to try and learn something else at the same time. However, experiments suggest that acquiring a new skill improves the overall effectiveness of your memory. So learn to make pasta at the same time you’re trying to master particle physics. Pasta picture from Shutterstock

Use Sounds For Reinforcement

Odd, but potentially effective: one 2011 study found that retention of ideas was enhanced when associated with a specific sound. The way to use this tip? Play a loop of sounds or a particular song while doing your study, and then continue playing that while you sleep. Think of it as Pavlov’s dog with a studious focus. Listening picture from Shutterstock

Make Sure Your Posture Is Good

Lounging around on your bed isn’t going to produce optimal results. A 2005 study found a clear association between posture and memory. So sit up straight and make sure your study area is ergonomically sound. Slouching picture from Shutterstock

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