There are science-backed ways to learn whatever you’d like to learn, much faster than you usually would.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn to ‘adjust’ our learning strategies for improved efficiency.
Here’s how to speed up the learning process:
1. Say it out loud
If you need to memorise something, the single-most powerful thing you can do is to say it out loud. A May 2010 study, published in the US-based Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, found that compared to reading or thinking silently, adding the act of speech is an excellent way to improve memory. It helps words become far more distinct in your long-term memory.
2. Don’t type your notes
Typing may be neater and even faster than writing by hand, but an April 2014 study, published in the US-based journal Psychological Science, found that people were able to learn more when they wrote down their notes by hand. The process has been found to enhance both comprehension and retention, likely because you’re compelled to jot it down in your own words in order to keep up. Many top leaders in technology and scientific fields utilise this hack. For instance, British business magnate Richard Branson has maintained a lifelong habit of keeping a handwritten journal.
3. Study or work in focused chunks
If you have an investor pitch coming up, or a sales demonstration, presentation or exam, don’t wait till the last minute to cram all your research. A November 2008 study in the US-based journal Psychological Science found that it’s much more effective to learn in short sessions over a period of time – something called distributed practice. So, for instance, you could draft your investor pitch, run through it once and make any corrections or revisions – then step away for a few hours, before you repeat the process again. The idea is based on study-phase retrieval theory, which states that each time you attempt to recall something from memory, its retrieval is more successful and the memory becomes harder to forget.
4. Test yourself frequently
A July 2011 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, found that self-testing is an excellent way to speed up the learning process. It’s because it creates additional context – for instance, if you keep getting an answer wrong every time you test yourself, you’ll recall that you didn’t remember it, which ironically, will help you remember. By frequently testing yourself, you’ll grow more confident of your knowledge of the content, and be more likely to master it.