How to Study Smarter Not Harder

Studying is one of the most complex functions that the brain can perform. This is because studying requires a significant amount of attentiveness in the frontal lobes while simultaneously exercising memory centers within the hippocampi. Studying can be something a student dreads, especially during times like finals week; however, studying does not have to be arduous if you study smarter. With that being said, here are three empirically based study tips proven to help your brain remember the things it needs to remember:

1. Know your Learning Style 

Knowing which mode of learning is optimal for you can not only help you learn the material in a more comprehensive fashion, but it will also aid in the consolidation of memory. The different types of learning styles are visual, auditory, verbal, physical, social, and solitary. By knowing which style fits your brain best, it will make studying that much easier because you will know how to use your style to your advantage. For an example, visual learners study best when they draw visual representations, or watch crash course videos that have a lot of graphics. Meanwhile, the best way to learn and study for an auditory learner would be to simply listen to lecture. If you are a verbal learner, start getting used to reading your notes aloud. This not only engages temporal and frontal lobes but hearing your own voice can aid in reinforcement and recollection of information. Physical learners also referred to as kinesthetic leaners study best when they engage in primary motor cortex in the basal ganglia. To do so, playing a game of charades to act out information that you’ll be tested on can help. Social learners study best in group settings where they feed off of information from others. And contrarily, solitary learners study best by their lonesome rather than with others. 

studying with coffee Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

2. Always give personal examples

Since the brain is an association machine, one of the most effective ways to study is to relate personal experiences that are already stored in the brain to new information you are trying to remember. Luckily, there are association areas in the brain to help us do just that. Attaching emotional personal experiences to the information you are studying is especially helpful because the amygdala and hippocampus are located right next to each other thus facilitating dendritic connections. Either way, the minute a memory is pertinent to content you are studying, the more likely you will be able to understand and recall the material when the time calls for it. 

3. Never pull an all-nighter 

Although at first it may seem like a logical idea to stay up late to prepare for the exam coming up the next day, this is actually one of the worst things you could do. This is because a full night of rem sleep is exactly what our brain needs to essentially “save” all of the word documents floating around in our brain. A good night’s rest before a quiz or exam is one of the best ways, if not the best way to set yourself up for success. While your asleep your cerebral cortex is actually the area of the body that is most awake. It is working and forming new neuronal networks from the 24 hours worth of implicit and explicit information you have received and if it does not get the chance to do this, information can be harder to access and distorted.