Knowing how to study is one of the most crucial skills a student may need. Thankfully, there are some tactics such as time-blocking, active recall, and spaced repetition that can make the process much easier and quicker.
Firstly, students need to understand when is the right time to study. The importance of a good schedule and time management skills should not be overlooked. As freelance writer Laura Scroggs wrote in her article: “If you don’t control your schedule, it will control you.” A useful method in this situation is time-blocking. During time-blocking, a person plans their whole day hour by hour. For example, if a student goes back home at 15:00, according to their schedule, they may rest from 15:00 to 17:00 and then concentrate on their math homework from 17:00 to 18:30. It is important to keep a time frame and focus only on one task at a time, otherwise, it will be hard to get anything done. Prioritizing is a requirement for time-blocking. Task order can be selected by importance, how much time a certain task takes, or even what the student simply prefers to do first. Prioritizing responsibilities well, staying motivated, and concentrating are crucial for time-blocking to be successful.
Moni Varadinova is a current AUBG student holding a 3.6 GPA while managing to do RA duties and being part of 3 different clubs. Varadinova says that she manages time by keeping a tight schedule. She does this by staying motivated as well as concentrated. What helps her achieve this goal is a reward system. After each successful task, she rewards herself with something as small as getting candy or watching a movie. While the reward system is quite helpful, Varadinova believes that the study environment is just as important since concentration plays a major role in studying. For concentration, she advises staying isolated from the outside world while studying. “I set all of my devices on Do Not Disturb… and I play some light music to isolate the noise so I can concentrate on what I’m doing,” states Varadinova.
When it comes to studying, one of the tactics Varadinova uses to make sure she knows the material is creating study questions and quizzing herself. This is one of the strategies of active recall. In the research done by Roediger and Karpicke, they found that the more times somebody tests themselves with active recall, the easier they will be able to recall specific information. Unlike passive recall, active recall requires getting a piece of information from memory. An example of passive recall would be rereading notes, whereas an example of active recall would be using flashcards or Varadinova’s method - self-generated questions.
There are several strategies one can use for active recall. One of them is Feynman’s technique, which requires the student to teach or at least pretend to explain the material to a person that knows nothing of it. The tactic is especially helpful for mathematical and scientific material. Feynman’s technique includes the person cleaning their head from information and starting from the very beginning to solidify their understanding of the subject.
Once the student has learned the material, it is important to make sure they remember it for their test. In his article, Sander Tamm explains the hypothesis of The Forgetting Curve, which states that people tend to forget learned information over time. However, it is possible to avoid falling into The Forgetting Curve by reviewing material from time to time. According to a study done by Hadi Amiri, Timothy A. Miller, and Guergana Savova, “Human learners can learn efficiently and effectively by increasing intervals of time between subsequent reviews of previously learned materials.”
As stated by Tamm, space repetition contains four steps: scheduling space intervals for studying, reviewing and studying for the first time, recalling information during the first space interval, and keeping recalling it throughout the scheduled spaced intervals.
When it comes to how to plan the intervals, different algorithms can help such as SuperMemo, Anki, Leitner System, and Half-Life Regression. There is no one specific formula for this method since everything depends on the person and the complexity of the subject. However, one of the most popular techniques is the one SuperMemo uses, which includes doubling the space after each interval.
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