Are you studying wrong?

Do you keep putting off work and procrastinating? Maybe it’s because you aren’t studying effectively!

Evidence has proven that mindlessly copying notes from slides and rote learning or memorization without understanding stands as a great weakness for students across the world. Read ahead to find out more about research-based study methods that have been proven effective through various studies and how you can incorporate them into your day-to-day learning.

Researched study methods

From Feynman’s technique to active recall, there are quite a few study techniques that have reigned champion amongst the outdated and seldom defective study methods.

A Mind map of the topic learned

This technique is beneficial for all visual learners. Used by philosopher Ramon LLull in the 20th century, these colorful and precise mapping diagrams help students make their content more concise and organized. This methodology aids students in finding connections between subtopics and, hence, proves to be an effective way of better understanding the content provided.

Retrospective timetable

We have all faced the vicious cycle of – creating a study schedule and failing to abide by it (guilty as charged!). Research has provided us with a helpful alternative. Instead of starting with a fixed timeline and adding in the topics of revision, we add dates next to topics that we have revised for that day already and color code them according to worst (red), manageable (yellow), and well-understood (green). This allows you to see how well you score in a particular area of interest and also prevents the procrastinating habit of Creating a Timetable!

Active recall & Spaced Repetition

Two of the study methods that have created the most buzz and often go hand in hand are Active Recall and Spaced repetition. Active recall is creating a set of questions based on the content learned and repeatedly testing yourself on those questions. Here is where spaced repetition comes into play! When you space your revision throughout the week with different topics and force your brain to retrieve information based on the questions you’ve asked, you will be able to generate an effective study technique.

Accountability Partner

According to the American Society of Training and Development, 65% of people are more likely to commit and reach their goals when they have an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who works together with a person to help them maintain their goal or commitment and reach their desired outcome. An accountability partner usually works best when they are told the goal you want to reach in a specific time frame, e.g., completing a lecture in 1 to 2 hours, and they check back on you once that particular outcome is achieved.

How to incorporate these study methods into your learning?

So, the big question is: how can we incorporate these study methods into our overall learning? The most effective order of learning as per research-backed evidence is to create a retrospective timetable of the content learned while color-coding it based on difficulty, and then create questions through active recall and spaced repetition to help you with revision, all the while having an accountability partner. Mind maps are to be created before each lesson revision. If you are someone who finds adapting to new methods arduous, note-taking and memorization can be imperatively improved either by Cornell’s note-taking method or by interleaving when creating a prospective or pre-determined timetable instead of a retrospective timetable.

Cornell’s Note-taking method


It can definitely be a lot of information and change to take in all at once, but slowly adapting to these new and improved methods will make a significant difference in the way you learn. These methods have helped me improve my learning methods in medical school, and I’m sure with a little hard work they’ll help you too!

Written by: Subiksha Sivachandran

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