Even if you are passionate about a topic, it can be difficult to find an effective way to learn more. Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can take to help you focus and absorb information more effectively. To improve your learning skills, you can try to identify the main learning styles and their strengths. Be critical about what you learn and find commonalities to help you understand it in depth.
Method 1 of 4: Absorb and remember information
Step 1. Break the material down into smaller parts
If you try to absorb everything there is to know about a subject all at once, you will soon feel overwhelmed. Whether you are reading a chapter in your history textbook or trying to learn to play the piano, you need to focus on one thing at a time before moving on to the next. Once you have mastered each part, you can work to put them together to make a cohesive whole.
For example, if you are reading a chapter in a textbook, you might start by skimming over it quickly or even reading the titles in the chapter to get a feel for its content. Then read each paragraph in detail and try to identify the key concepts
Step 2. Take notes as you learn
Notes can help you fully engage with the material you need to learn, and it will be easier for your brain to understand and remember it. If you are listening to a lesson or topic explanation, you should jot down key points as they arise. If you are reading, write down key words, summarize important concepts, and write down any questions you have about what you are reading.
Studies have shown that it is more efficient for most people to take notes by hand than to type them on the computer. When you write them down by hand, you will instead try to focus on the important points instead of trying to write everything you hear
if you like sketching to take notes, don't hesitate! It might even help you focus on what you hear.
Step 3. Summarize the information you just learned
Summaries are a great way to test your knowledge and help clarify your understanding of the topic. After you learn something new, whether in a classroom lesson or in a book, you should take a moment to jot down a short paragraph or a multi-point list to summarize the main points.
- You can also try to summarize the information out loud. If you are working with a professor, they can provide feedback on your summary to help you determine if you have understood the topic properly.
- For example, you could say, "To find the area of a rectangle, I have to multiply its length by its width. Is it correct ? "
Step 4. Keep your sessions short and frequent
Instead of spending hours studying just one topic per day, you should instead spread it over several 30-60 minute sessions every day over several days or weeks. This will keep you from feeling exhausted and help you retain information better.
By spacing out the study sessions, you will also avoid putting off your work until the next day! If you take a little time every day on a certain task or topic, it will seem less difficult in the long run because you will be less tempted to make excuses not to study
Step 5. Use multiple learning methods
Most people learn best by combining different techniques or methods of learning. If you can, combine several different approaches that best suit your style. Here are some examples.
- If you are taking a lesson, try taking notes by hand and recording the lesson so you can listen to it later when you review it. Increase your knowledge by reading appropriate materials and using visual aids (eg graphics or illustrations).
- If possible, try to actively apply the knowledge you have learned. For example, if you are learning ancient Greek, you should try to translate a short passage on your own.
Step 6. Discuss what you are learning with others
By discussing what you learn, you will gain a new perspective or create connections that might not be obvious to you while reading or studying with a book. In addition to asking questions of your teacher or other students, you should share your perspective and understanding of what you have studied.
Teaching others what you've learned is a great way to strengthen your understanding of a topic. This can help you identify the areas that you need to improve. Try to explain something you learned to a friend, family member, or student in your class
Method 2 of 4: Stay focused while studying
Step 1. Take frequent breaks
If you find that you get lost at times, try dividing your study time into 25-minute sessions with a five-minute break in between. This is called the "Pomodoro Technique". Use it to keep your brain awake and to stay focused.
During your breaks, don't focus on what you are studying. Try meditating or visualizing a relaxing scene
try using an app like "Pomodoro Time" to help organize your breaks and studies.
Step 2. Get seven to nine hours of sleep a night
If you are well rested, you will be able to stay more focused and energized during your studies. However, sleep also plays an important role in learning and memory. Go to bed early enough to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night (or eight to ten if you're a teenager). You can also improve the quality of your sleep by following the tips below.
- Turn off shiny screens at least half an hour before bed.
- Get in the habit of relaxing before bed, for example, you might read a chapter from your favorite book, listen to soft music, or take a hot shower.
- Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants six hours before bed.
Step 3. Eat foods that stimulate the brain
Eating nutritious and energizing foods will help you stay awake and absorb new information more effectively. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast, such as a hard-boiled egg, a bowl of oatmeal, and fresh fruit. While you study, you can snack on foods that will feed your brain like blueberries, bananas, or a little omega-3 rich salmon.
Make sure you stay well hydrated, because if you don't drink enough you will feel tired and you will not be able to concentrate
Step 4. Find yourself a calm and comfortable study environment
If you study in a noisy, uncomfortable, or poorly lit place, it will be more difficult for you to concentrate and absorb what you are learning. Different people learn best in different environments, which is why you should try different ones to find the one that works best for you.
- For example, if noise tends to distract you, you should try working in a quiet room in the library rather than at a busy cafe table.
- Find a place to study where you can sit comfortably and spread out, but don't make yourself so comfortable that you will fall asleep. For example, you should avoid studying on your bed or on the sofa.
Step 5. Move the phone and other distractions away
You will easily waste your time on social media, playing games, or checking emails instead of studying. If your phone or other device is distracting you, try turning it off or placing it away from you (for example, in your bag or in a drawer in your desk). You can also use productivity apps like BreakFree or Flipd that limit your ability to use your device while you work or study.
- Avoid studying near a television that may distract you.
- If you find yourself tempted by sites that are going to waste your time, you might consider installing an extension on your browser like StayFocusd to help you stay focused.
Method 3 of 4: Take into account your learning needs
Step 1. Think about what you know and what you don't know
Metacognition, the ability to recognize what you know and what you don't know, is an important part of learning. Think about the topic or skill you are trying to learn and ask yourself, "What things do I know about this topic? What are some things that I already know or understand well? Once you have identified the areas where you need to improve your knowledge or understanding, you can focus on them.
- You can test your knowledge by giving yourself a quiz. If you use a notebook or take a course that includes quizzes or quizzes to test your knowledge, you should take advantage of it.
- You could also try writing a short explanation on the topic. This exercise will allow you to realize what you already know while helping you to identify the things that you need to deepen.
Step 2. Take the VARK questionnaire
Although most people use a combination of approaches to learning, you may find that you learn best by seeing information, hearing it, reading it, writing it down, or seeing it in action. Once you understand the learning methods that work best for you, you can adjust your study style. To identify your main style, you can take the VARK quiz.
- Visual learners better retain information from visual sources, be it maps, charts, diagrams or pictures.
- Auditory learners prefer to listen to lessons or verbal explanations. It can also be helpful to speak out loud about what you have learned.
- Other people retain new information better when reading or writing it. Concentrate on your notes and read material about the topic that interests you.
- Finally, some students retain what they learn better when they put into practice the knowledge they have learned. For example, you might learn a foreign language better by speaking it than by reading it.
Step 3. Identify your learning strengths
They are similar to your learning styles, but instead focus on specific skills and areas of intelligence. Try to find a test that gives you a better idea of your major intelligence strengths. You can then adapt your learning methods to your areas of strength.
For example, if you have a high score in Physical Movement Intelligence, you might find that you can remember and understand information better if you go for a walk with a friend and talk to them about the things you are learning
Did you know ?
According to the theory of multiple intelligences, the eight key areas of intelligence are linguistics, mathematical logic, spatial, kinesic physics, music, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.
Method 4 of 4: Apply critical thinking skills
Step 1. Ask questions about what you are studying
To truly retain what you learn, it's important that you don't just absorb the information and remember it. As you learn, you should take breaks to ask yourself questions. By exploring these questions and seeking answers, you will gain a better understanding of the topic.
For example, if you are inquiring about a historical event, you might ask yourself questions like, "Why did this happen? How do we know what happened? What are the sources that we have? Would things turn out differently if this event happened today? "
If you are studying a discipline that is new to you (for example, biology or law), try to make a list of 25 key questions that your discipline seeks to answer. This can make a good basis for your exploration of the topic.
Step 2. Find connections between the concepts
When you learn something, try not to see it as a series of unrelated pieces. Instead, try to find a way to relate these ideas and information to each other and to your knowledge and experiences. This will help you put the things you learn into context.
For example, you may have learned that anthropologists use bones to understand how human beings lived in ancient societies. Think about how our own activities may influence the perspective of future anthropologists or archaeologists when they discover your skeleton, for example they might notice that you injured your elbow tendons as a result of playing tennis
Step 3. Keep a critical eye on your sources
Don't take everything you hear, see or read at face value. As you learn, consider where your information comes from, how reliable it is, and whether it is still up-to-date or out of date. For example, you might ask yourself the following questions.
- “What evidence does this author bring to support his argument? "
- "Is this information still current? "
- “What are the sources of this information? "
- "What are the qualifications of the person presenting this information?" Does she have a goal or a bias? "
- “Are there different interpretations of the problem that might also be valid? "
Step 4. Try to identify the key concepts of the material
Whether you take an entire course in a certain area or focus on a particular lesson, you should try to extract key themes and concepts. This will allow you to organize your thoughts and define a point to focus on as you learn.