How to Learn Things Faster-Memorize faster and Smarter

Whenever we ask our seniors and elders about how to learn and memorize things faster. They all quiet gesture same with the words that we shouldn’t waste time and must give our 90% of the time to our studies and practice more. But that might not work for us because as a student of the 21st century there are many more things in which we are quite more interested than studies, however, studies are also important. So, we should have to work smarter and must focus on quality, not quantity.

Elon Musk once said that; “I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying.”

We all have been envious of people who have remarkable learning skills and memory because for us the thing that might need an hour to learn, they learn that in just 30 minutes. But you don’t have to be embarrassed or disheartened because neuroscience proved that as all the other body parts such as muscles and bones could be improved, the ability of the brain to memorize things could also be improved by just following some easy steps recommended by the neuroscientists.

However, there is a caution that the steps mentioned below might not work well for the people who want to do something overnight or just a day before the exam because cramming can help you overnight but won’t benefit you. If you want to increase your learning skills or to enhance your memory, start to train your brain at least a month before exams.

1. Develop Note-Taking and Making a habit

It is proven that those who take their notes while listening to the lectures consume and retain knowledge at a higher case and is actually worth but make sure you take them by hand. Although it seems so old-fashioned in this age of laptops researchers have shown that reframing the information in your own words by hand will help you better understand the work and help you gain maximum marks in exams.

Researches in “Princeton University and UCLA” resulted that the students who take their notes by hand usually outperformed the students who typed via laptops.

Note-taking is a pretty dynamic process,” said cognitive psychologist Michael Friedman at Harvard University who studies note-taking systems.

Although, note-taking by hand seemingly cumbersome than typing on a laptop but it will surely provide you a better understanding of work and remembrance.

How to make notes for exams;

Make sure that you know the best methods on how to make notes such as the Cornell method;

Always start the new topic from a brand new page.

Write the name of the topic at the top of the page.

Right down the important points with bullet marks.

Leave spaces between lines and points, etc.

Paraphrase big paragraphs in your own words with bullet points.

Reframing the information;

Reframing means having the sense to analyze the events in different possible ways. It allows you to get aware of your personal learning process.

Whatever you learn or read try to write it down in your own simple and understandable words. This will help you later like when you will be preparing for the exams all you have to do is to grab your notes and read the information written by your own hand and at that time you will get to know that how useful it is to analyze the information because one day before the exam when people are really stressed out and don’t have time to read all the things they just start reading with a quite empty head but you who have his notes you will read them in quite half of the time than you used to give to that particular thing.

2. Don’t multitask

A few years ago, it was thought that people who multitask or perform many things at once generally have more abilities and they also outperform other people but now when there have been so many researches about multitasking gives us the concept that multitasking doesn’t help people instead it lowers the capacity of the brain to store the proper information and affect its working.

And we also mindlessly do that too let me give you an example; take yourself back when you were studying so, the scenario was “you are studying and you also have your earphone in your ears and your favorite song is playing.” You seemingly thought that you are totally focused but actually, you weren’t.

A naturalistic study on the multitasking of students showed that the students who used laptops during class had lower memory scores. Then how could you even think that listening to music or doing something else while studying won’t affect the quality?

Alternatives to multi-tasking;

Take a deep breath then try to choose one thing that is the most important among all of them.

Try the Chunking method, in simple words this method is all about organizing the day and what does that mean? How can we do that?

Group your tasks. Divide your time sensibly. Don’t waste your time while shuttling from one thing to the other. Group similar things together and then do them one by one with full attention instead of doing them all with a stressed mind.

This method increases the efficiency to do work and also keep our mind calm and always ready to gain information and one can also save time that one person was wasting while shuttling.

3. Take short breaks

Cognitive scientists and their studies have come up with new information about our brain and its’ working. When we want to learn something for long-term use, learning the information all at once might not work because according to new studies our mind also needs some relaxation for the proper arrangement of data. Do not switch your subject, paragraph until you have completely memorized the last one.

We should focus on distributed practice and what is this? So in simple words, it refers to the technique in which after consuming some information we give rest to our brain (usually 5–10mins after a half-hour study session) and let it digest the information. And after giving the time we try to remember what we had learned a few minutes ago and the information which we ended up remembering is the pure juice of our understanding. And that is basically the retrieval to our memory and if that retrieval proves profitable and you can remember all the things then well and good. But if the retrieval is effortful then you have to re-learn that topic but it is useful at the same time because it helps us increase our memory which is now more resistant to forgetting.

4. Try to relate things with what you already know

Your environment and your thinking affect your studies a lot even more than you think they could. While encoding information in memory, your environment (i.e. your thinking, your surroundings, presentation of the information, etc.) is also encoding and can, later on, proves to be a useful clue in the retrieving of information. So, while studying, try to connect the information with the things you already know.

Even Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, said that; “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree…” if we consider this concept as he wants to tell us that when we connect the new things with the old ones, we are generally building a “bridge” between the old and new piece of our knowledge.

According to the book, Make it Stick; when we have something connected to the original information, it makes the retrieval of information easy when we need it.

5. Take quizzes of you

Studies have shown that the students who study and then go through a testing time will have better long-term recall of the memory, in fact, in most of the cases these students outperformed the students who had a long time to study but haven’t gone through the testing period.

Testing boosts up your learning. Hundreds of researchers demonstrated that the retrieval or testing method is far better than any other method of learning.

A study published in 2008 which was by Karpicke and his mentor, Henry Roediger III of Washington University, reported that in the vocabulary test, students who quizzed themselves remembered 80% of the words while the students who read the list of words over and over could only be able to remember 60% of them.

The episodic testing method benefits our brain to retrieve information and makes our brain resistant to forgetting.

6. Teach it to someone

One of the best-recommended methods in learning things is to teach it to someone else, it could be anyone, your friend, classmates, or just a mirror.

A famous saying by Einstein is that you don’t get the concept until you are not able to teach it to a five-year-old.

When you are alone, try to teach it to yourself. Translate it in your own words it would be fun also. Try to demonstrate it to yourself.

7. Read it out

Actually, this is my personal learning method too. Reading things aloud develops the proper understanding of things, fluency, and adaptive skills. It also develops good listening habits.

It improves your vocabulary and reading speed as well.

The most important benefit we get by reading aloud is that it sharpens our focus. When we read something aloud our total focus is on reading the task with our entire energy and we feel something motivating us. Despite this, it improves our verbal and mental health as well.

Written words sound more effective, meaningful, and deliberate when they read aloud.

8. Take proper diet and sleep


By eating rich in fat, saturated, and refined sugar substances, you are not doing any favor to your brain. Diets filled with fats and refined sugars affect poorly the working of the hippocampus which is the most important part of the brain for effective learning and memory.

Take veggies and fruits. Avoid carbonated drinks. Stay away from fried things such as nuggets, etc. Take fresh juice of your favorite fruits. Take dry fruits specifically walnuts. Walnuts play a significant role in the increase of memory. It improves cognitive functions. It is an anti-oxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects as well.

Start taking some tea. Green Tea serves as a natural catalyst in improving memory.

Stay hydrated. 70% of our body is composed of water. Drinking plenty of water regularly gives our brain strength, efficiency, energy and provides it its’ required oxygen. Dehydration causes your brain to shut down and it starts running at its’ lowest.

Brain cells need two times more energy than any other cell of body and water provides the required energy faster than any other substance,” said Dr. Corinne Allen, Founder of the Advanced Learning and Development Institute. Drink 80 ounces of water a day.

Proper sleep;

Deprivation of sleep undermines the ability of the brain to focus and efficiently learning.

In Make it Stick, it is clearly mentioned that sleep is very necessary to consolidate memory and for the proper retention when it is needed.

Final thoughts;

Your brain is your most important possession. Everything that you start doing today will take some time to become a habit. So, start today to get effective results tomorrow.

One thing that I personally recommend to all the students is that they should meditate at least once a day because studies proved that meditation helps in the growth of our mind and calms our minds. Few minutes of detachment from the world will help you undermine negativity and fill you up with hope. And the process could involve one’s religious principles or it could be yoga too. Anything you are comfortable with.

Esha is a freelance writer. She is a feline enthusiast from Pakistan. She writes for blogs.