Get Better Grades By Understanding How Your Brain Works

Studying for last law school examOne of my favorite blogs is the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. It summarizes current research in a way interesting to non-academics. I eat that kind of stuff up.

Their most recent post is a real winner for college students: 9 Evidence-Based Study Tips. You’ll receive a lot of advice in college – but these principles actually have experimental support.

  1. Adopt a growth mindset: believe that your brain is capable of getting smarter. You’re not stuck where you are.
  2. Sleep well: internalize that all-nighters hurt more than they help.
  3. Forgive yourself for procrastinating: as a minister, I was quite taken by this one. It’s a beautiful illustration of a more general lesson on grace as the primary catalyst for growth in life.
  4. Test yourself: don’t just review the material – turn it into a quiz.
  5. Pace your studies: review the material once 20% of the time elapses between the day you first learned it and the day of the test. Combining this with the previous tip will revolutionize your study life.
  6. Vivid examples may not always work best. This is more of a tip for teachers, so here’s the student version: don’t assume that the charismatic teacher will help you understand better simply because they entertain you more. Be suspicious of vivid illustrations because they can make it harder to learn the abstract principles you must master.
  7. Take naps: lie down and rest for 10–30 minutes. It will help more than you think.
  8. Get handouts prior to the lecture: the evidence for this one seemed weak to me. Read it and judge for yourself.
  9. Believe in yourself: confidence matters. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.

Each tip has a brief paragraph explaining the principle in more detail including links to the research upon which it is based. Go read it now!

You’re welcome.

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