Did you know that breaking a world record in a sport has nothing to do with pushing the body past its limit? Surprised? I was too.

Instead, breaking records is about perfecting the technique to put forth the best effort possible. We can focus on our technique to study smarter, not harder.

Why Technique Matters

We could study for ten hours a day, but how much material would we internalize? That depends on our technique and what we do during that time. For example, we will internalize much less when reading and re-reading than using the active recall method.

In addition to mastering the technique of studying, the benefits grow with increased effort. As the amount of effort increases, the material internalized using good study techniques goes up quickly until everything has been learned.

Less effective study techniques with more effort will result in the material being internalized, but the rate is slower.

Tips to Improve Your Study Technique

Instead of thinking about how long you should study, think about how to study. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Stop reading and re-reading. Many students do this, and I have been guilty of using this technique too. Instead, review the material by "lecturing" out loud and quizzing yourself.
  2. Record ideas. Instead of transcribing what your professor says word-for-word, try to organize the information into big ideas. To make your notes even better, connect them to concepts from previous lectures.
  3. Always have a plan. The night before, make a plan of your study process. This way, you avoid wasting time.
  4. Reflect after the test. After every test, think of which study techniques were the most useful. Then try something new to have some variety (I know, studying can get boring!). Before you know it, you will have a set of optimal practices.

Do you implement the active recall method as a study technique? Let me know in the comments below!