Techniques for faster learning

Hilarious tale indeed!

We were study mates and great friends. I did not think twice when he asked to borrow my shiny brand new medical embryology textbook by T. W Sadler. The book cost my wallet substantial coin (about ₦4500 at the time). It was not one of the poor quality, low cost texts. Its  pages were the glistening, glossy variety. I had barely read a page of its exposé of human developmental processes.

A week later or so, my friend returned my book. It seemed to be in good condition.

… until I flipped the pages.

I was astonished, bewildered and traumatised to find page after page, paragraphs and statements highlighted in green, attempting to appear more interesting than the rest of the book. I must have cried a river inside my heart. My precious book had been vandalised. I have never recovered from the shock of it all.

The truth is, my friend probably did it out of habit, to aid his studying. I had seen him do that stuff to his own books. I thought he would have some respect for a borrowed book, never mind one that had just left the publishing house.

To learn faster, I was quite adept at recopying interesting sections of some of my textbooks into smaller notebooks. Of course this amused a few classmates but I didn’t mind. I never really learned reading silently and not taking notes, just like how we read novels. I also thought marking up books with highlighters was an act of profound cruelty and a sin against book libraries.

Most of us have spent at least a decade in formal education, yet how many of us have grasped the principles of efficient learning?

Did you know that compared with silently reading or listening to audio books, reading out loud yourself can boost your learning speed by 5 to 15 percent? This is not a joke! According to one psychologist, “say the information that you want to remember out loud and you’ll have a higher likelihood of remembering it. Yes, it’s that simple!”.

Again, like Jessica Stillman writes in, making notes longhand greatly increases retention times versus typing them out, yet lots of people study on laptops and tablets. Highlighting important passages has been shown to be worse than useless, apologies to my book – destroying friend.

Other techniques that improve learning and retention are taking decent breaks from studying and then quizzing yourself, and exercising about 4 hours after studying.

Last last, what shall it profit a man to read a textbook like a novel and stare into space during the actual examinations?

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