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6 Effective Study Strategies For Getting Good Grades

Getting good grades is very important. It is one of the fundamental factors that will shape your future and success in life. Yes, we all have heard the stories of brilliant brains like Edison, who never received any formal education or success stories of dropouts like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. But these stories happen very rarely, once in many millions, and to every Zuckerberg and Jobs, there are plenty well educated Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Elon Musk. With many students on the verge of starting a new academic year, and the competition for top colleges and universities admissions, as well as success in competitive exams getting tougher and tougher, it is time to study not just harder, but smarter. So, here are 6 efficient study strategies that are backed by works from cognitive psychological scientists Megan Smith of Rhode Island College, Yana Weinstein of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Cindy Wooldridge of Washburn University.

Spacing

Spacing
Spacing

We have all been there, pulling an all-nighter, cramming before the exam. Yes, in most cases you can pass that particular exam with excessive cramming, but in long run, it is terrible to study practice to follow. Additionally, the sleep deprivation as a result of pulling all-nighter will negatively affect your memory and performance during the test.

According to Megan Smith, spacing is the correct strategy to adopt. She says instead of spending 5 hours cramming everything the night before the exam, spread that 5 hours across one week, in chunks one or two hours for better memorization. You can read about how to use Spaced Repetition to improve your memory here.

Interleaving

Interleaving
Interleaving

Interleaving may sound like a complicated term, but the concept is simple. According to research, you shouldn't study one idea for a longer period of time. Instead, you should change up the topics often, after you gained a decent understanding of the topic you have been studying. After the study session, try a different order for reviewing material. This will help you to find links and similarities between different ideas or topics you have been studying.

Concrete Examples

Concrete Examples
Concrete Examples

When it comes to studying subjects such as economics or philosophy, one has to come across many abstract ideas. Generally, many amongst us adopt an easy yet ineffective method - cramming the definitions. Cramming a definition word by word may help you to reproduce the exact text in near future, but it will neither improve your learning nor memorization. When you come across abstract ideas and concept, look for examples or real life application of these ideas, which will help you understand complex topics faster.

Elaboration

Elaboration
Elaboration

Elaboration means explaining and describing ideas in elaborate detail. As you elaborate a topic, try to connect it with your existing knowledge or memories, says Yana Weinstein of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Additionally, follow a technique called 'Elaborative Interrogation', in which the learner asks questions on how and why some things work or happened and then find the answer themselves. Most importantly, form connections between multiple concepts and understand how they are similar or different to boost your comprehension.

Dual Coding

Dual Coding
Dual Coding

Most of the textbooks are designed by experts with good insights from educational research. An example of this is the presence of pictures, graphs, and other visual aids. However, the problem is most of the students aren't using it in the way it is intended. Ideally a learner shouldn't ignore these visuals, instead, they should compare them to the text. This also means examining the graph or other visual elements and explaining it in one's own words. Similarly, try creating graphs or mindmaps with the text explaining the topic. This concept is called Dual Coding. So, next time when you are studying, use infographics, diagrams, and timelines to explain the concepts to yourself.

Retrieval Practice

Retrieval Practice
Retrieval Practice

Once you spent some time learning a concept, take a small break. Close your textbook, keep your notes away, grab a fresh sheet of paper and try to write down the idea that you just learned. It is absolutely okay if you can't remember everything you read. The key is to write whatever you understood from your reading. Now, open your study material and find out what are the points you missed, and learn them exclusively. This technique, called Retrieval Practice, is very similar to a learning strategy employed by famous scientist Richard Feynman called the Feynman Technique.

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