If you find that despite putting significant effort into studying, you still fail to achieve your desired results, it’s time to reconsider your revision techniques. Registered psychologist and InnerDrive director, Bradley Busch, warns against inefficient study methods where students waste time without direction. Here are some common study pitfalls to avoid and expert-recommended alternatives.
Re-reading and Highlighting Notes
Re-reading and highlighting may seem productive, but research suggests this technique is not effective. Instead, psychologists advise utilizing retrieval practice, a method that challenges your brain to produce answers. This can mean utilizing quizzes, multiple choice tests, and past papers that strengthen your ability to transfer information to long-term memory.
Beware of the planning fallacy, which leads to underestimation of required study time and cramming the night before a test. This technique provides short-term knowledge and quickly fades away. The opposite technique, spacing, advocates for steady revision over extended periods, such as one hour daily for seven days. It’s also beneficial to incorporate interleaving, mixing up different subjects you’re revising for during a session.
While finding and listening to music to increase focus may seem helpful, it’s typically a waste of time. Neuroscientist and journalist David Cox suggests studying in silence, as background music hinders the brain’s maximum potential.
Checking your phone frequently is a common distraction during study sessions. Research shows that simply having your phone in sight decreases concentration levels. To avoid this, consider placing your phone in another room or removing distractions by using apps that block notifications or limiting individual usage.