Study smarter: How to outwit your brain

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Taylor Hughes
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The old, boring study techniques you’re probably using right now are doing you no good. When exam season approaches and you find yourself surrounded by textbooks and old coffee, there’s no time to do everything on your list if you have to spend an exhaustive amount of time memorizing. So, let’s find the median. Where’s the happy middle between doing well on your exams and not going through two weeks of dread at the end of every semester? Using these easy tips, you can actually be smarter than yourself. The brain is just another organ, and you can use it to your advantage! Use these research-based psychology facts in your studying routine to hack into your brain and trick it into remembering more and learning faster, without even knowing it.

Questions: Think before you even need to

Before you come across any real information, you have to let your brain warm up and get it ready to remember the most possible information. Start by studying the headings. Turn them into questions. Get your brain to start thinking. It might seem simple, but you’ll remember a lot more information right off the bat, and you didn’t even really have to work for it.

Start with it, and end it with it, too

Another easy way to remember important information without even putting any effort into it is to study it at the beginning of your reviewing, and at the end, too. This is called primacy (the beginning) and recency (the end), and it’s been proven that the brain remembers the first and last details the best. You’ll trick your brain into recalling it faster and gain much more information, while not having to put too much more time into studying it.

Chunk the concepts

Brain maps are the road to easy memorizing. When you have a lot of concepts and not so much space to remember the details of each, draw them out on a map. Connect them to each other, the central idea, and the main points of each. This will help you to remember each not only individually, but in the grand scheme of things as well. Studying isn’t just about each concept, but about linking what you know to comprehend it faster and more efficiently.

Pick your spot

Another hint to make your brain smarter without knowing it: pick your spot and keep to it. If you attend class in-person, listen to lectures in one spot, and do your best to write the exam there too. It’s proven that the brain remembers better when it’s in a familiar place. An interesting 1975 study by Godden and Baddeley actually shows that students who studied underwater, recalled more underwater than above ground!

Relate it to you

This one is easy to remember: make everything about you. Look for ways to make a personal connection to everything you read and listen to. Think about how the words remind you of something from home and you’ll recall them faster. Think about how a formula isn’t so different from a recipe you love to bake and it’ll come easier to you.

I hope you take advantage of these proven study tips and ace your next exam with less study time! Always remember to study smarter, not harder.