10 Best Ways To Study According To Science

Posted April 14, 2020, by Elesha

Want to get the best bang for your study buck? Then study according to science!

From ditching the repetitious memorising approach, acting like a teacher and embarking on a decluttering mission, our research-based tips will have you studying like an A grade student in no time. Your study struggles end here. 

#1 Cramming Repetition Isn’t As Effective As You Think – Do This Instead

It’s one of the oldest study tips in the book – go over the same information again and again…and again in a cram session. 

However, if you want to study according to science, it’s been found that old-school reviewing isn’t actually the best way for your brain to learn.

According to research, quizzing yourself without your notes handy is actually a better learning method. Your brain needs to go into ‘retrieval mode’ and find the information its previously stored. 

This enhances the retention of information and actually primes the brain to remember the material in the future.

#2 – Listen To Music Without Lyrics 

We do a lot of stuff better when we’re in a good mood – including studying and problem-solving.

If you want to get yourself into a happy zone while diving into the books, research shows listening to music triggers the release of dopamine (aka – our happy hormone and neurotransmitter) in the brain.

Music without lyrics and rhythmic beats or classical music without lyrics are good choices. Loud, aggressive music with lyrics can have the opposite effect! Check out Spotify’s playlists for studying

#3 – Forget Multi-Tasking

The best ways to study according to science do not include multi-tasking!

Research has shown multi-tasking has a ‘switching cost’ – which basically means when you try and do more than one thing at a time – especially more complex tasks, your productivity takes a hit. 

When you’re in study mode, stay in study mode. Don’t jump in to check your social feeds or be flicking between a million open tabs open on your computer. 

#4 – Try Chunk Learning

Try chunk learning to increase your study results. 

Using this method, you break up the information you want to learn into small chunks, rather than trying to memorise a mega long list of information at an epic study session.

It’s been said that our working memory only has the ability to hold around 7 items of information at a time. 

So, by breaking the info you need to master into bite-size chunks and learning them one at a time.

You reduce the cognitive load required.  This approach optimises your memory power as our brains are better at storing information in short, repeated sessions. 

#5 – Drink Up!

75% of your brain is made up of water. It makes sense then, if you want to study according to science, to keep your glass topped up with H2O to super-charge your learning power.

If the idea of sipping water all day bores the heck out of your taste buds, try making it a little more interesting.

Experiment by adding chunks of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables to a jug of water for a flavour hit. An infusion of cucumber, lemon, mint, and strawberries is especially delicious!

Coffee can also boost cognitive performance if you don’t go over the top.  Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found caffeine has a positive effect on memory

#6 – Learn The Same Things In Different Ways

When learning something new, mixing up the way you study the same information can help it stick according to a study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. What does that mean for your study process? Get creative!

Don’t just stick to reviewing your study notes. Watch videos on the topic, teach someone what you’ve learnt (more on that below!), draw a mind map of the key information, etc. 

Each time you return to study that topic, use a different method.

#7- Take Notes 

A simple way to study according to science is by taking notes.

Basically, the action of making notes takes more cognitive effort which helps form new neural pathways in the brain.

“It doesn’t matter how you record your notes, as long as you do.” Bill Gates.

Hmmmm. Seems research might disagree with you on that one, Mr Gates.

Studies have found that the pen is mightier than the keyboard – taking handwritten notes is a more effective habit for learning and memory than typing them up on a computer.

#8 – Learn Like A Teacher

Imagine you had to learn the 5 types of fossils and how they are formed – then take a test afterwards to see what you recalled.

Now imagine you had to learn the same information, but instead of taking a test, you had to teach the information to a class of students.

The idea that you have to actually teach someone else the information can cause a shift in your study mindset as psychology researcher John Nestojko discovered.

This approach helps us organise information in a more logical way while zoning in on the main points and ignore irrelevant content. 

#9 – Move Around

If you want to study according to science-backed tips that work, make sure you’re regularly raising your heart rate and getting your blood pumping with exercise.

It seems that aerobic exercise, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia, can increase the size of your hippocampus. 

Why is study life better with a bigger hippocampus, you ask?

It’s the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Interestingly, the research showed that other kinds of exercise that involved resistance training and muscle toning didn’t have the same hippocampus boosting effect. 

#10 – KonMari Your Study Space

Ok, so we know that study-sessions won’t always (ever?) be ‘sparking joy’ but taking a KonMari approach to your study space and decluttering it can improve your focus.

This isn’t just the advice of the queen declutterer, Marie Kondo  – it’s one of the better ways to study according to science too. 

A messy space can raise stress levels, reduce our ability to focus, and increase poor eating choices. Calorific study snacks, anyone?

Binge-watch Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It’s guaranteed to get you in the decluttering mood!

For more ways to maximise your student life, check out The Best Apps For Students In 2023.


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