Today, we are going to learn about 4 psychology tricks to learn everything faster. Now, let’s begin
- Grow Your Understanding
Learning and understanding are two different skill sets. You can learn all kinds of information, but if you don’t understand why something is important, that information doesn’t do you much good. So how do you know when you’ve learned enough about something to understand what it means?
People who have memorized a lot of information can recall data, quotes, and terms. They can answer complex questions and solve difficult problems, but only people with a strong understanding of a concept can explain that concept in their own words. In other words, someone who fully understands a subject can teach that subject to almost anyone.
At first, this sounds backwards. When someone uses high-level jargon or quotes obscure passages, we assume their understanding is far, far over our heads. But that’s not always the case. People who rely on niche, hyper-specific information don’t always understand what they’re really saying. On the other hand, people who can explain difficult concepts in a way any person can understand — these are the people who understand what they’re saying and why it matters.
They know enough about a subject to not only parrot the information they’ve learned but also to create new connections, helpful metaphors, and relatable ideas. So how does this apply to your life?
If you want to learn everything faster, don’t focus on the volume of information you know. You don’t need to memorize every word, number, or concept in the book. Instead, concentrate on cultivating a fuller understanding of the big picture. Why does something work the way it does? How would you explain this big idea to someone who knows almost nothing about it? If you want to test your understanding, find someone who knows very little about what you’re learning. Try your best to give them a simple but meaningful explanation of how a difficult concept works. If they can grasp what you’re saying, despite knowing very little information, you have a strong understanding of your subject. If not, their confusion often reflects the holes in your knowledge.
So, go back. Find the missing pieces. Create new metaphors. Explain your concepts to a variety of people. As your explanations become simpler and more meaningful, you’ll notice difficult concepts falling naturally into place.
- Cultivate Interest
Many people struggle to learn new information because they study in the wrong state of mind. If you’re bored, tired, or frustrated, you’re going to have a hard time remembering anything, even information you’ve read a hundred times. You may feel like your memory isn’t working the way it should. But the problem isn’t your memory. The reason you’re struggle to retain information… is because you are not interested or invested in the subjects you’re learning
If you want to improve the speed and efficiency of your studying, you need to be passionate about the information you want to learn. Not only does passion make studying more meaningful, but it actually increases the rate at which you store new memories and make new connections. But interest and passion don’t always happen naturally. How do you make yourself interested in a subject you find boring?
If you want to transform boring information into something more stimulating, start by answering this question: what makes this information valuable to you? Typically, we give up on subjects because they feel insignificant or pointless. If you feel like you’re wasting your time, you have no incentive to study and work hard. But if you know your time and effort is valuable, you’re much more likely to make investments, retain information, and ignite your personal passions.
Whenever you’re struggling to remember something — whether it’s a subject in school or a new program at work — figure out why that information is important to you or the world at large. Will this information help you gain advantages in your career? Will it help you unravel greater mysteries about the universe? If you can answer these questions, you can spark a deeper passion inside you. Once you know why something is meaningful, you feel more motivated to understand concepts and explore new intellectual territory.
No matter what subject you’re studying, there is a reason you’re studying it. Whether you’re practicing for an exam or picking up a new skill set, figure out why it is valuable to you. Get inspired. Ignite your passions. And you may discover learning is a whole lot easier.
- Constructive Feedback
According to a 2014 study from Rice University, a small twist on a popular learning technique can significantly increase your understanding of any subject. This popular technique is sometimes called spaced learning or spaced repetition.
The basic idea is this: people retain information for longer periods of time when they space out their study sessions. Instead of cramming for 6 hours in one day, try studying for one hour over 6 days. By breaking your studying into smaller chunks, your brain retains a higher quantity of information.
During each session, you can review the subjects you learned, fill the gaps in your knowledge, and make connections between big picture ideas. Spaced repetition has been studied and re-studied dozens of times. But here’s where our 2014 study adds a new, important variable to the equation.
In this study, researchers used special homework assignments to see how different learning techniques impact students’ test performance. Over three weeks of homework assignments, students were given a combination of new and familiar problems. As students learned new concepts, they also reviewed old concepts, using spaced repetition to develop a stronger understanding. On its own, spaced learning is an effective learning technique, which will help you learn information faster.
But in this study, researchers added a third variable, which made the learning process even more efficient. After students handed in their homework assignments, they received immediate feedback and reviewed their mistakes. This change capitalized on an important piece of the psychological puzzle, which spaced repetition doesn’t cover on its own. When students saw the mistakes they made, they were more motivated to review previous study materials and discover the source of their misunderstanding. As a result, they not only strengthened their understanding of the concept, but they also patched important holes in their knowledge.
Correcting your mistakes is a useful learning technique in any environment, not just homework assignments. Receiving constructive criticism from others can help you identify weaknesses you can’t see on your own. Otherwise, you may waste days or weeks of your time studying materials in the wrong way. So, how can you incorporate these learning techniques into your life?
In our 2014 study, the researchers gave students detailed feedback after every assignment, but you may not have access to the same resources. If you’re studying for a test or simply learning a new subject, you may not have a professor to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Luckily, you don’t need an expert in the field to get useful feedback on your work. You can reap the same reward by studying with a friend, coworkers, or classmate. Simply explain concepts to each other, like you’re answering questions on a test. After listening to the other person’s answers, give each other feedback. What did they leave out? What didn’t make sense? Chances are, you will uncover holes in your friend’s work, and they’ll find the same mistakes in yours.
But that’s okay. You want to identify as many mistakes as you can while you’re still learning. That way, when it’s time to take a test or make a presentation, you can feel confident knowing you’ve learned from your mistakes and developed a deeper understanding.
- Diverse Techniques
Each time you learn a new piece of information, your brain creates a network of cues and connections, which you can use to jog your memory in the right context. For example, mnemonic devices are common tools you can use to quickly retain strings of information. Many people use familiar tools like mnemonic devices for every subject, skill, or concept they learn. But if you want to learn a variety of subjects more efficiently, you need to use more than one learning technique.
Imagine two people are studying for a test. Both people study for a total of one week, but each student uses different learning techniques. The first student uses his notes to create a series of mnemonic devices. Every day, he reviews his mnemonic devices. On the third day, he can remember each mnemonic device clearly, so he stops studying, thinking he’s learned everything he needs to know. The second student, on the other hand, changes her study techniques from day to day.
On day 1, she reads her notes and creates a list of mnemonic devices.
On day 2, she turns her notes into a game.
On day 3, she teaches the concepts she’s learned to a friend.
By mixing up her study techniques, she discovers holes in her knowledge. She deepens her understanding of the subject, because she’s approaching that subject from a variety of different angles.
If you want to learn everything faster, take advantage of your memory’s diverse style of learning. For example, your brain commonly makes connections between words and images. If you need to remember a specific term or concept, create a mental picture that you can use to jog your memory. You can take advantage of your other senses as well. Visual images are usually the most reliable cues, but you can also use smells, sounds, movements, and even tastes to improve your memory.
The point is: don’t limit yourself to one learning technique. No matter what you need to learn, diversify your cognitive toolbox. Approach your subject from different angles and involve your five senses. Diverse learning techniques create stronger, longer-lasting connections in your brain. In the beginning, it may require a little more work, but the right strategies can help you learn everything faster.