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Teenage boy lying on his bed while concentrating on homework for his exams.

3 foolproof methods for learning by heart without cramming

Tips for students 21 July 2021

Passionate about life sciences and human sciences, Alex naturally enrolled in the first year of medical school after the Baccalaureat. This course was an obvious way for him to achieve his goal: becoming a doctor 👨‍⚕‍

However, a few years of studies stand between Alex and his dream of becoming a doctor. Alex will openly admit it: the pace is intense and the information to be learned is plentiful… To avoid procrastinating or, worse, feeling demotivated, he searched for learning methods that could help him memorise everything he needed to learn.

If you want to stop cramming and the unpleasant feeling of not remembering your lessons, discover Alex’s methods to study efficiently 👇

1. Study at the right time:

Revise at a time that suits you

Revision times are an important component to consider. Because we’re not all the same, the times when we feel most effective are not the same for everyone. It makes sense! And yet very few students really know what time is the best time to revise. So how do you go about finding out?

For Alex, the easiest way was to test the different time slots: morning, afternoon, and evening and then to observe:

  • When he preferred to study,
  • When he felt most concentrated,
  • When it was easiest for him to work around his schedule.

Identifying the part of the day for studying that suits you best will allow you to be more efficient and even learn better in a shorter period.  💯 Schedule your revision sessions in advance with SCRIBZEE alerts. After programming your alert, a notification will inform you of your revision slot and allow you to directly access the course to be revised!

Revise at regular intervals

Have you ever spent a day learning something and then felt like you couldn’t remember anything a week later? You think you’ve wasted your time and that you got to start everything all over again… 😔

No worries! There is a simple method to implement to memorise in the long term: revise regularly. This is really THE secret for effective revisions according to Alex.

Indeed, scheduling several work sessions spaced out over time allows you to keep information in your memory longer. Why is that? Well, quite simply because memory decreases with time and to anchor an element in your memory in the long term, you only have to reactivate the memory.

But how do you do this in practice?

Alex is firm believer in the Day method, which is a tool for revising at intervals. When he has a lesson on Day 0, he revises it on Day+1, D+3, D+7, D+14, D+30 and D+60.

On the first few days (D+1 and D+3), he mainly reviews the lesson by:

  • Reading it and making sure he fully understands it 🧐
  • Completing it if necessary 🖊️
  • Recalling what the teacher said during the lesson 💬 This allows him to reactivate his memory and to anchor the information better in his mind.

From D+7, he moves on to learning his lessons and this involves:

  • Creating links between the different pieces of information 🙌
  • Asking questions and testing himself ❓

Want to know more about these two techniques? It’s over here! 👇

2. Linking information

As he doesn’t like learning by heart, Alex has found a trick that makes it easy for him to memorise.

He tries to establish a path between the different key notions in his lesson by creating links between the information.

For example, in high school biology class, he remembered the beginning and the end of a concept and then tried to remember the different steps in the middle. It is possible to use this method as follows:

  • Mentally 🧠: by imagining the links created between the elements of the lesson. This technique will work if you are able to visualise things in space.
  • In a handwritten way ✍️: by making diagrams to link the elements with arrows and symbols. This method will be more suitable for people who need to write things down to memorise. The mind map is very suitable for this exercise.

To memorise concepts, it is also possible to create associations with other words/images. You can also make rational or irrational associations. The most important thing is that these associations are personal, because that’s how you will remember them best. It is a very effective mnemonic.

But what’s the point?

The point is to facilitate the retention of information in the medium and long term, i.e. your ability to remember what you have learned when you need it.

Indeed, when you link information together, you create connections between different subjects. The more a concept is linked to knowledge you already have, the easier it will be for you to remember it. That’s why it’s important to learn information as you go along (through repetition at regular intervals, for example) rather than all at once.

3. Quizzing yourself

As a student, like Alex, you may have been used to reading and rereading your lecture notes for a long time, telling yourself that they would eventually stick in your head?

But most of the time, after a few minutes of reading, it’s difficult to remember what you just reviewed… 🤔 Why? Well, simply because reading is a passive activity that doesn’t keep you attentive and engaged during your revisions.

What if we told you that there is a simple to implement method that allows you to be active to retain everything more easily? This method is called flashcards.

Alex has been using it for a few months and it has been a revelation 🤩

What are flashcards?

They are small cards that are used horizontally and on which you make a note:

  • On the front: a question or a word
  • On the back: the answer, a definition or a translation

They allow you to break the information down into smaller, more digestible pieces and above all to reformulate it to obtain questions. It’s these questions that allow you to be active during the memorisation exercise.

Indeed, after writing your flashcards, all you have to do is read the question on the front, try to find the answer, and then check that you’re right by looking at the back. Trying to remember the answer allows you to embed the information deep in your memory: this is called the testing effect.

What’s more, with OXFORD FLASH 2.0 flashcards, you can easily study whenever you want, wherever you are, by scanning your flashcards with the SCRIBZEE application. After scanning, you can access two learning modes:

  • Revision: To learn everything by heart, SCRIBZEE creates customised work sessions by showing the unmastered flashcards you need to learn first. No more time spent reviewing information you already know, SCRIBZEE uses your results to optimise your revisions.
  • Quiz: To check if you’re ready for your exam, test yourself on each of your flashcards. At the end of the session, a score is displayed. You can then decide to revise all your flashcards again or to concentrate on those you have not mastered.

Want to get started? 🙋🏻‍♂️

In conclusion: methods you can use to memorise more easily

As you can see, the winning combo is :

  • Revising regularly 📅
  • Linking information together 🖇️
  • Quizzing yourself ❓

By implementing these tips, you won’t experience revision in the same way, and you should get results quickly.

Remember, we all have the ability to learn, we just need to use the right methods. But as we’re all different, we can only encourage you to try out different methods to see which ones suit you best.

Ready to try it for your next exams 😉

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