How to learn faster: 13 scientifically


Kids can và should practice the skill of learning if they want a fighting chance at fulfilling all those lofty goals their parents mix for them. But some people keep studying - & thinking - the same way all their lives without improving their methods. 

Thankfully, cognitive science has taken a look at how people actually learn, and the results are surprising and super helpful.

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Skills are easier to pick up as individual parts.

If you want khổng lồ learn the guitar, don"t think about performing all the parts at once. Set the smaller, more measurable goal of learning a few easy chords, how khổng lồ strum correctly, và how khổng lồ put those chords together.

Over time, the accumulation of those tinier skills will showroom up lớn the whole ability to lớn play guitar.

It"s a technique that applies to lớn mechanical learning as well as fact-based lessons.

Multitasking doesn"t work, especially for storing new information.

Most people understand that multitasking is a myth - your brain really can"t pay equal attention to two tasks simultaneously. But few people apply that insight khổng lồ learning.

In addition to lớn breaking a task down into individual steps, be sure to devote your full energy to each step on its own. When you get distracted, it takes roughly 25 minutes to return your focus to lớn the original task.

Over time, multitasking could mean you only gain a partial understanding of various different skills or concepts, without acquiring a full knowledge or mastery of any.

Writing down what you"ve learned helps cement it in your mind.

If you want to lớn translate information lớn knowledge, research suggests you should be writing down what you learn - by hand.

A năm trước study found that students who took notes on pen & paper learned more than students who typed notes on their laptops. Over a battery of tests, the pen-and-paper group were more adept at remembering facts, sorting out complex ideas, & synthesising information.

Researchers say the physical act of touching pen khổng lồ paper creates a stronger cognitive links to the material than merely typing, which happens far too quickly for retention to take place. Writing forces you to confront ideas head-on, which leads them lớn stick with you over time.

Mistakes should be celebrated and studied.

Being perfect is overrated. The entire point of learning is lớn make attempts, fail, và find a lesson about where you went wrong.

In 2014, a study of motor learning found the brain has more or less reserved a space for the mistakes we make. Later, we can recruit those memories to bởi vì better next time.

If parents teach kids never to make mistakes, or shun them when mistakes happen, kids end up missing a wealth of knowledge.

Being optimistic helps you succeed.

Stressing kids out with negative reinforcement can get them stuck in a mental rut, filling them with self-doubt và anxiety, both of which are toxic for learning.

"Anxiety precludes you from exploring real solutions and real thought patterns that will come up with solutions," says Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks.

Decades of positive psychology research suggest that we will become more successful in just about anything we try to bởi vì if we approach it with an xuất hiện mind and see tangible room for improvement.

Parents should teach kids to see learning as exploration. It will help give them a sense of determination, which they can manufacture into grit when the going gets tough.

Exciting topics are "stickier" than boring ones.

Kids naturally drift toward the weird & wacky, but once the experience of rote education gets them thinking in cold hard facts, that sense of fun can die off.

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Parents: don"t let that happen.

As early as possible, kids should gain an appreciation for why they remember Grandma"s weird-smelling house và those highlighter-yellow shorts Dad wears on night-time runs. It"s because they"re unique.

Author and former US memory champion Joshua Foer memorised a full deck of playing cards in under two minutes by tying each card to a weird image. Kids can vì the same for their times tables và presidents.

Speed reading can condense learning times.

The premise is simple: If you can read faster, you can learn faster. Though you might think tốc độ reading takes a lot of effort, programs like Spreeder pick up the pace gradually lớn make it feel manageable.

By training your brain to process words more quickly, you get accustomed lớn reading entire strings of words, rather than imagining each one individually, which slows you down.

Practice, practice, practice.

Matthew Ragan/Flickr

A strong work ethic makes a real impact on the brain.

In 2004, a study published in Nature found the act of juggling produced more grey matter. When people stopped juggling, the grey matter disappeared. There wasn"t anything special in the juggling itself, just the repetition.

Neuroscientists gọi this process "pruning". It refers khổng lồ the new pathways that are carved by doing an act over & over again, to lớn the point where it sticks around for good.

In other words, skills follow the use-it-or-lose-it principle.

Use what you know khổng lồ learn what you don"t.

If kids encounter a topic they have trouble wrapping their heads around, parents should help them lớn understand how it relates to something they"ve already learned. The practice is called associative learning.

A student might like football but struggle with differential calculus. If he can see the similarities between a spiralling pass and the slope of a curve, he stands a better chance at understanding the abstract concept.

Looking things up isn"t always a bad thing.

Kids should learn how to lớn grapple with tough problems - the act teaches them discipline. But evidence suggests spending too long on a problem can make it worse.

In 2008, researchers found that unresolved tip-of-the-tongue moments can gradually slip people into an "error state", in which their memory of the concept or fact gets replaced by the memory of the tip-of-the-tongue moment.

The solution: If you know you know it, but just can"t remember it, Google it.

Teaching other people helps you, too.


Scientists have dubbed it "the protégé effect".

When you take something that you"ve learned and put it into your own words, you"re not only demonstrating mastery of an idea - you"re refining your own understanding of it.

In distilling information into small pieces that someone can easily digest, the teacher must gain a certain intimacy with the subject matter.

That"s why older siblings are generally smarter than younger siblings, one 2007 study suggested - because one of the jobs of the older sibling is passing knowledge along after having received it.