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How to Study Scientifically

Psychologists now know much more about the optimum conditions for human learning than they did a few decades ago. You can use these insights to develop a scientific study plan.


  • Step 1: Move to different locations as you study. Alternating the rooms in which you study helps improve retention. Now you can move up to the head of the class.
  • Step 2: Vary the type of material you study in a single sitting. Focusing on related, but distinct, topics seems to create a deeper impression on the brain than if you focus on one skill at a time.
  • TIP: Forget about distinctions such as visual-versus-auditory and left-brain-versus-right-brain learning. Studies show that there is little basis for these kinds of learning-style characterizations.
  • Step 3: Avoid adverse conditions such as too much stress, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. These factors can negatively effect cognition and memory.
  • Step 4: Understand that knowledge is made up of different components, and each of these develops on a different timetable. When you study scientifically, you use learning strategies that address these distinctions.

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