A student’s life is rife with unforgettable experiences and memories worth cherishing for a lifetime. But when it comes to studies–the core component around which all other experiences of a student revolve around – things often go awry.

Students often struggle with learning new topics from scratch. Even the brightest students can face difficulties while trying to absorb a complex topic now and then. While it is common and natural for a student to find it hard to learn or get stuck, what most students don’t realize is that the problem doesn’t lie in the topic or their mind but in their study methods.

How you learn something determines– to a large extent– how well you understand it and how long you’re able to retain it. Unfortunately, the majority of students indulge in inefficient learning methods that make learning a complex and unenjoyable experience. What’s worse, they don’t realize they can adopt much more effective study techniques to study better and retain longer.

As you are reading this blog, you have made the first step towards bettering your learning process. Here are five highly effective, proven study methods for students that can dramatically improve the way you learn and understand topics.

The Feynman Technique

Richard Feynman was an unconventional physicist. The Feynman Technique is derived from Feynman’s unconventional (but highly efficient) way of studying when he was a university student. With this technique, you can gain an in-depth understanding of a topic by teaching it to a child or anyone who doesn’t have the slightest idea about it.

The technique is broken down into the following four parts:

Pick a topic: First off, you need to pick up a topic you want to learn. Study the topic thoroughly, take notes, and in the end, write down everything you learned in the simplest words possible.

Explain it to a child: Try to explain the topic to an 11-13-year-old child. If there is no kid around you, try to explain it to anyone, even yourself. There is only one rule: simple words and no jargon. Explain the topic briefly and simply.

Identify the gaps: Assess your explanation and find out what you are missing, identify your knowledge gaps, and refer to the source to eliminate your doubts.

Organize, clarify and simplify: After clearing your doubts and eliminating your weak points, reorganize and simplify your explanations. Wrap your explanation around stories and easily relatable analogies so that even a child can understand them.

The more simply you explain your topic, the more mastery you will gain.

The Feynman Technique of Learning

The Pomodoro Technique

There is a reason why the Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular and widely-followed time-management techniques. If you need to learn or practice a concept, you can do that in a focused manner using the Pomodoro method.

The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking down your study time into 25-minute-long intervals, with each such interval called a pomodoro. A pomodoro-interval is followed by a short break, typically 5 minutes long.

This 30-minute-long interval (25 minutes of pomodoro + 5 minutes of break) can be considered a session. After four such sessions, you should take a more extended break, usually 15-30 minutes long.

Studying or working through this technique can make your studies more productive as you only need to concentrate for 25 minutes at once. These concentration-loaded short intervals will make you more productive in your studies, and the short breaks will help you re-energize for the next pomodoro.

The technique has been adopted by thousands of people who have testified to its applicability and efficiency. So, you don’t need to think twice before trying it out.

Active Retrieval

Studying and learning new concepts is one thing, but retaining them for a long is a completely different challenge. Retention is as important as learning. In order to study more efficiently, it’s crucial to improve the retaining power. The simplest way to do that is by deliberately remembering topics you have learned earlier. 

Active Retrieval involves consciously and actively recalling previously learned topics at regular intervals. Once you learn a topic, make it a habit to take periodic tests yourself. You can make questions yourself, write them down on a sheet of paper, and answer them based on what you remember.

Writing down things on paper is more effective than you realize. So, instead of answering questions verbally, it’s better to write; you will find it easier to recall next time.

This method might seem a bit tedious and exhausting. But if applied consistently, it can make you immune to surprise tests and periodic tests in your school or college.

Spaced Repetition

This one is a more nuanced version of the previous method. And likewise, it is also the more effective version. This method is founded on the notion that the more you revise something, the longer you can retain it until the next revision.

The practice is an extension of Active Retrieval but involves a more structured way of recalling topics. Here’s what you need to do:

Understand and learn a topic thoroughly on Day 1. Recall and revise it for the first time on Day 4. Revise it again on Day 10, and so on. You can create a plan for any topic based on your requirements.

For example, if your next exam is two months away, you can structure your spacing plan as below:

First learning session: Day 1
First revision: Day 4
Second revision: Day 10
Third revision: Day 25
Fourth revision: Day 55

Spacing is one of the most effective ways of learning and retaining topics for long periods and is far better than learning several concepts at once.

Spaced Repetition – one of the proven study methods for students

PQ4R Technique

The PQ4R Technique is another one of the proven study methods for students to make your studies more efficient. This technique is most helpful for improving your reading skills but can be applied to other areas as well.

PQ4R stands for:

PREVIEW: This part involves skimming the source material without reading it thoroughly. Only read the headings and subheadings and try to figure out a rough outline of the subject.

QUESTION: Ask yourself basic questions related to the topics. What will you learn? What is a particular section about? What is the central theme of the subject? Try to figure out the answers without reading the text.

READ: Now is the time for actual reading. Read the topic carefully and search for the answers to your questions.

REFLECT: Check whether you understood the topic properly. Could you find the answers to the questions? If not, perhaps you need to read again.
RECITE: Read aloud a summary of the topic in your own words. You can read it to someone else for more effect or write down the notes on paper.

REVIEW: Lastly, briefly go through the topic once again and check if you need more help.

Summing it Up

The five effective and proven study methods for students mentioned in this blog can significantly transform how you study and learn. Apply these methods with conviction, and you will see results within weeks or months. You can apply multiple methods simultaneously for better results.

If this blog seems valuable to you, share it with more students like you. And keep returning to our books & education space to read more valuable study tips like these!