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Published on December 3, 2019

12 Powerful Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Info Fast

12 Powerful Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Info Fast

Learning is the input for growth. It is a crucial aspect of life. If you want to experience growth in all aspects of your life, then you need to invest in learning.

However, learning takes time, and time is a rare asset. So how can you maximize your time by learning and retaining info fast? Here’re 12 powerful learning strategies that can widen your horizon and help you retain information at lightning speed.

1. Hone Your Note-Taking Skills

I have found out that the old-fashioned way of taking notes is more effective than typing your notes on the sticky notes provided by your device. If you want to learn faster, forget the laptop and use your pen and paper to take notes. Research showed that students who use paper and pen to take notes in class retain more information than those who type their lecture notes on a laptop. [1]

Writing skills utilize different sections of your brain than reading. When you spend time to write a thought in your notepad having reviewed the material, you will have additional opportunities to cover the concept again. This will interest visual learners while the auditory learners can read the content aloud in addition to writing it down.

While it may be difficult and slower to take notes by hand instead of typing, writing fosters retention, and comprehension. You reframe information longer in your mind when you write with your hand. This means you can quickly recall info and perform better during an examination.

In fact, quality notes aid faster learning. Developing the capability of taking accurate notes will assist you to grasp concepts and gain a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Therefore, it is better to learn the art and strategies of note-taking before you learn a new idea.

This skill will help you to organize your class notes into digestible bits. For instance, if you are participating in an online course, don’t just watch, and do the following:

  • Listen, summarize the knowledge gained and then take notes.
  • Create lines and spaces between the main concepts so you can add more info subsequently during revision.
  • Use symbols and abbreviations to save time.
  • Write in phrases instead of complete sentences.
  • Pull out the necessary info and neglect the trivial ones.

You can also take a look at these 7 Simple Note Taking Techniques for Efficient Learning.

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2. Study, Sleep and Study More

Do you have an important presentation and you haven’t found time to prepare?

Most individuals who find themselves in this situation would rather stay overnight and cram before the presentation. The exciting thing is the hard work will surely be compensated even if you become exhausted the following day. However, that’s not the most effective learning strategy to retain info fast.

Now, here is the fact:

Research has found out that there is a correlation between sleep and learning. Sleep aids learning by optimizing your focus. You cannot focus if you deprive yourself of quality sleep. Not only that, sleep facilitates memory consolidation, which is crucial for learning to take place.[2]

Getting some sleep empowers your brain to recall quickly. Deep sleep before learning new information can strengthen memory. If you study and get some shut-eye, you will not only be able to explore more, but you will attain peak performance in your learning experience.

3. Tweak Your Practice

Someone says you cannot repeat the same process and achieve a different result. Making some adjustments in recurring practice lessons will empower you to gain a new skill faster instead of adhering to a routine.

You can learn a skill by watching YouTube videos, play games, or read a guide in a textbook. Another related example is changing the size of your racket when perfecting your lawn tennis game.

4. Use a Mnemonic Strategy

This has been found out to be one of the time-tested learning strategies. You can learn anything faster by trying a mnemonic approach — sounds, letter patterns, or other methods that help you learn a concept. This was very popular in the kindergarten in learning the alphabet. Children can ‘know their ABCs’ thanks to the alphabet song and still retain this information even till adulthood.

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Mnemonics will help you summarize, simplify, and compress the information so it can be easier to retain. This strategy is useful for medical or law students, or individuals studying a language.

So if you want to retain substantial information, adopt a mnemonic method, and you will discover you can recall information beyond your examination.

5. Discover Your Peak Moment When You Are the Most Attentive and Alert

You have a sharp focus at some specific period of the day. This differs from person to person. Some are early risers, while others are night owls. Discovering your uniqueness will assist you in knowing what period of the day you can retain info faster. [3]

6. Focus on Topics One After the Other

Some concepts require an additional amount of concentration to grasp fully. Jumping from one topic to the other can make your efforts to be fruitless, which will limit you from retaining the info.

7. Pause

We always want to rush through a material anytime we are reading. The outcome is obvious-limited retention.

Absorb info in small bits, pause to think on what you have read, revise the concept, then proceed.

8. Make it Pleasurable

If you are struggling to learn a topic, personalize it. You can do this by finding out how it applies to your personal life or career.

9. Utilize Brain Breaks to Regain Focus

Information overload is real. Do you know that your brains need to communicate signals to your sensory receptors to store new information? This process can be hindered by stress.

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Your brains automatically shut down when you are anxious, confused, or overwhelmed. You can notice these among learners during a long lecture. They will stop paying rapt attention to what’s being taught. They can’t just retain information in their memory storage device.

One of the best learning strategies to handle this is to go on a ‘brain break ‘ or divert your attention to something different. You could see a five-minute motivational video to unclog your mind or do something that interests you.

10. Stay Hydrated

You have read that water is beneficial to your body system and skin. It optimizes your body performance and boosts your immune system. Now staying hydrated also impacts your cognitive performance positively. You can become smarter when you drink water.

Here’s the gist:

A study found out that students who take water to the examination hall performed better compared to those who did not.[4]

Dehydration can affect your cognitive abilities. You stress your brain when you don’t drink water.

11. Link What You Learn with Previous Knowledge

You will grasp new information faster if you link new concepts with an existing idea you already have. In the book, Make it Stick, the authors wrote that related study habits are most times counterproductive. They may establish an illusion of comprehension and mastery, but the knowledge fades away from our memory quickly.

Memory is crucial when it comes to implementing difficult cognitive tasks like the application of knowledge to new tasks and the drawing of inferences from already known details or facts. By discovering the means of aligning new knowledge with previous experience, you will find extra layers of understanding in the new topic. This will help you learn faster and retain info at lightning speed.

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Guess who loves using this technique? Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla. Elon compares knowledge to a semantic tree. He advises ensuring you grasp the principles — the trunk and the branches before diving into the leaves or details. That way, you will find something to hang on to. You supply the mental hook when you link new knowledge to the old.[5]

12. Teach Others

If you find it challenging to explain a concept to others, you might as well find it challenging to retain the concept. Studies have found out that the average individual retains 90% of what was learned only when they teach others or practice the concept immediately. You can discover your weak points when you apply or teach a concept.

Do you want to retain info faster? Then, revisit the material until you become confident to impact the knowledge to others.

Bottom Line

Great learners are still learning how to learn. Since learning is a lifelong affair, discover the learning strategies that work for you. Don’t try to rush through a concept, learn the simple concepts, and build on the previous knowledge while taking complex concepts.

The more you practice those learning strategies shared, the better you become at being a great learner like Elon Musk!

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Joel Muniz via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on June 22, 2020

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

I spent five years as a middle and high school teacher, and I would often hear people talking about learning styles. “Betty is a visual learner. Sam is kinesthetic. Emma is an auditory learner.”

I hadn’t read any research about learning styles at the time, but on the face of it, it makes sense. Some people seem to learn better when they see things, others when they’re active, and some when they hear things. I know that I really struggle when someone spells a word aloud. I have no idea what word they’re spelling. I’ve always just made the excuse that I’m a visual learner and will need them to write it down for me. But is there any truth to learning styles?

Before we delve into the characteristics of a smart auditory learner, let’s take a step back and explore what research says about learning styles more generally.

Debunking Learning Styles

In the 1990s, a New Zealand school inspector named Neil Fleming[1] came up with a questionnaire to measure people’s preferred learning style. Now called the VARK questionnaire, it’s still used today to discern whether people are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, or Kinesthetic learners.

Fleming’s learning styles theory gained popularity over the decades, but no studies have confirmed its legitimacy. In a study by Polly Husmann and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin[2], they found that people who used their preferred learning style did not see any improvements in learning outcomes. In short, there was no correlation between learning style and actual learning.

Another study by Abby R. Knoll, Hajime Otani, Reid L. Skeel, and K. Roger Van Horn[3] also found that learning style had no relationship with recall. Participants who preferred visual learning did not recall images they saw any better than words they heard.

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There’s no evidence that learning styles help people learn or recall. Instead, they should be thought of as a learning preference. I prefer when people write things down for me, but there’s no evidence that this improves my recall.

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

Having a preference for auditory learning means you gravitate toward verbal communication. Audiobooks and lectures might be your cup of tea instead of the charts and graphs of a visual learner.

So what if you think you’re an auditory learner? Let’s say you have a knack for processing audio communication and can close your eyes and pick up all the important details of a lecture or audiobook. The following list is for you. Here are 7 characteristics of smart auditory learners—people who use their auditory preference to their advantage.

1. They Take Learning Styles With a Grain of Salt

This bears repeating. There is no evidence that people’s learning styles impact their learning, so a smart auditory learner definitely takes learning styles with a grain of salt.

Think of it as a preference. Smart auditory learners know they prefer audiobooks and hearing things out loud, so there’s no harm leaning into that preference.

Just don’t assume it’s going to improve your test scores.

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2. They Get Rid of Distractions

Just because you’re an auditory learner doesn’t mean you can sift through lots of auditory inputs at once. No matter your learning preference, make sure you put effort into limiting distractions.

An auditory learner might struggle to study while listening to music or have difficulty working with the TV on because they’re so receptive to auditory information. Therefore, you should find a quiet place to learn, so you can focus all your energy on whatever it is you’re trying to retain.

3. They Match Learning Task With Learning Style

The real secret to improving your retention and recall is to match the learning task with the learning style. A smart auditory learner knows the best time to rely on auditory learning. They don’t always fall back on listening. Instead, they strategize the best approach for each individual learning challenge.

For example, I might know that I favor visual learning, but if I need to memorize my lines in a play, I might be better served recording the other characters’ lines, so I can practice saying my lines when I hear my cues.

Maybe I’m more kinesthetic. That doesn’t mean that I have to move to learn. Instead, I have to be strategic about when and how I add movement to my learning process. It might make sense for me to memorize countries or states by drawing a giant map and running to the right spot when someone yells out that geographic location. However, it doesn’t make much sense to dance around while I’m reading Foucault. The learning style should be in service of whatever it is that’s being learned.

Instead of catering to people’s learning preferences, we should be matching the learning style with the task at hand. Ask yourself, “What’s the best style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing) for this particular learning task?”

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4. They Use Their Voice

Auditory learners might need to read things aloud or listen to audiobooks instead of silently reading. Adding your voice can help turn reading/writing into an auditory exercise.

Get creative with it. If you consider yourself to be an auditory learner, think of different ways to add an audio element to your learning. Sing it. Yell it. Turn it into a poem. Just don’t get stuck in the reading/writing learning style when you prefer to be hearing and listening.

5. They Practice Listening

Smart auditory learners don’t take listening for granted. Just because you prefer auditory learning doesn’t mean you’re great at it. Instead, smart auditory learners take their preference and improve it over time.

Practice your listening skills. Give people your undivided attention, clarify what you’ve just heard, and challenge yourself to be as active and present a listener as possible.

Asking clarifying questions and repeating back what you’ve just heard can help you assess how accurate your listening is[4]. You should also transfer what you’ve heard to other learning styles. Write it down or draw it as pictures, charts, and graphs. That brings us to the next characteristic of smart auditory learners.

6. They Use All Learning Styles

Smart auditory learners use all the learning styles. They may have a preference for listening, but using all types of inputs helps improve retention and recall.

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If you’re studying for an exam, don’t just record your notes as audio or listen to online lectures. Use flashcards, read your notes out loud, quiz yourself, create an active game that requires you to move around, and teach the concepts to your roommate. This gets as many parts of your brain and body involved in the learning as possible, which increases your odds of retaining the information and acing the exam.

7. They Reflect on What Works and What Doesn’t

Smart auditory learners are also reflective and self-aware learners. After you try a learning strategy, assess and reflect on how it went. Did you retain as much information as you’d hoped? Build off your successes and change strategies when a learning style isn’t working for you.

Smart auditory learning is really just smart learning. Create a game plan that uses multiple, appropriate learning styles. Then, follow through by removing distractions and studying your heart out. After assessing how much you’ve retained, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Then, refine your game plan for more success next time.

Final Thoughts

It would be magical if learning styles were a silver bullet for learning. I’d love to be able to say I’m a visual learner and then be able to recall every single piece of information just by seeing it represented visually. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how learning styles work.

Learning is complex and messy. Just because we prefer one learning style doesn’t mean it helps us learn better. What we really need to do is experiment with all the learning styles and try to match the right learning styles with each specific task.

Knowing your learning style is important. It’s good to know how you prefer to receive information. Just don’t stop there. Use your preference for auditory learning strategically and when it makes sense to do so.

More Tips for When You’re an Auditory Learner

Featured photo credit: Blaz Erzetic via unsplash.com

Reference

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