The ability to study faster is a skill most people would like to attain. Whether you’re learning calculus, mastering new technology, studying a foreign language, or focusing on an advanced skill, learning new things can help you achieve your goals. According to a 2016 Pew Research study, almost two-thirds of workers in the U. S. have expanded their education, professional networks, and career paths by studying something new.
If you’re a quick learner, you might have already mastered the art of studying faster. While most of us could use a little boost when it comes to studying quicker and more effectively, science demonstrates several proven ways to study and retain knowledge faster.
If you’re ready to take your education or career to the next level, check out these top 5 tips to study faster.
1. Study In Short Bursts
When you’re trying to study faster and more effectively, it’s essential to set a clock to study for a short, intense study period.
According to Louisiana State University’s Center for Academic Success, committing to a 30-to-50-minute study session can help your brain retain more information. Less than half an hour is considered too short, while more than 50 minutes can make your brain go into information overload.
Breaking up your studying into short, regular, and targeted learning sessions can help you study faster and learn more than if you spread them out over many hours or days.
2. Write Your Notes Down
While it’s easier and faster to type your notes into your laptop, grab a pen and paper and write your notes down by hand to help your brain engage faster.
In Princeton and UCLA studies, students who took notes by hand proved to be more active listeners who absorbed knowledge faster and at a deeper level than students who just listened or typed their class notes.
If you’re trying to learn a conceptual subject faster, taking notes by hand can help you process the information better by combining listening and reframing information.
3. Use A Mental Spacing Strategy
Even though spacing your studies out through the week might not seem like the best way to help you study faster, spacing your learning sessions out over a week, instead of trying to cram everything into a day or two, can help trigger signals to your brain about picking up information and retaining it faster.
4. Get Some Sleep
It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s best to take a break when you’re too tired to study. If you notice that you’re reading the same paragraph repeatedly without really understanding it or if you have trouble focusing, it’s a good idea to shift gears and give your brain and body the rest it needs.
While you might feel that you need to push on, sometimes you’ll become more productive, study faster, and learn more efficiently if you take some downtime.
In one recent French experiment published in Psychological Science, a group of participants learned Swahili translations for 16 French words over two sessions.
Those in the “wake” group first studied in the morning and did their second session in the evening. Meanwhile, the “sleep” group did their first session in the evening, slept, and then studied the second half the following day.
The “sleep” group rested between the two sessions and could recall 10 out of 16 words. The group who hadn’t slept between studying could only remember around 7 and a half words.
The study demonstrated the power of integrating sleep into study habits. Even if it’s just a catnap, a short rest can leave you feeling restored, mentally refreshed, and ready to hit the books again.
5. Mix It Up
Whether you’re learning a new skill, studying for a big test, or completing a vital essay, modifying how you do it can help you learn it faster.
For example, a new study by John Hopkins University School of Medicine demonstrated that participants who changed their technique when learning a computer task had better results than participants who did the same method repeatedly.
This suggests that modifying how you study subject matter each time you learn something new helps develop better mental skills that will help you study faster and master the material in less time.