After the night of cramming, you can’t remember even half of the information you’ve spent so much time learning. This frustration is familiar to all students.
Cramming the night before the exam is pointless. Without spaced out revisions, you won’t be able to recall the major part of the material. Therefore, there’s no point in forcing yourself to pull an all-nighter studying or writing a paper. It will only make you exhausted and harm your motivation to study. Instead, you can custom essay writing and learn the subject matter from the delivered draft. This is a healthier way to approach your homework than depriving yourself of sleep because of an urgent paper.
But how to improve retention and avoid wasting your time on cramming?
As a study of the brain and nervous system, neuroscience allows us to understand the learning brain and find ways to cultivate better study habits. You can use its findings to facilitate learning and study smarter. In this article, we’ll discuss the spacing effect and how you can use it to maximize knowledge retention.
What Is the Spacing Effect?
The spacing effect was first described by Hermann Ebbinghaus. After numerous experiments and research into memory, he presented the forgetting curve that recreates the process of memory retention.
The retention of information drops by 20% in the first 24 hours. This process continues day after day unless a person reviews the material. With each recall, the process of forgetting slows down, allowing us to retain more.
Learning experience stimulates the formation of new connections between neurons. Due to neuroplasticity, you can strengthen these connections by activating them repeatedly. This is why we need regular practice to learn something new. Besides, the way you retrieve information determines your ability to retain knowledge.
To make revisions effective, you should space out your study sessions. Although scientists still can’t offer a comprehensive explanation of the spacing effect, some theories suggest that it reactivates the neural pathways and gives time to strengthen receptors on the surface of neurons and thus speed up the transmission of impulses.
The spacing effect was also supported by more recent studies. Researchers asked two groups of students to attend a lecture. One group revised the material on Day 1, and the second group did the same on Day 8. Five weeks later, both groups took the final test, where students from the second group performed much better answering both factual and empirical questions (even those that weren’t explicitly reviewed).
Use the Spacing Effect to Develop Better Study Habits
The advancements in neuroscience and the discovery of the spacing effect allow students to develop more effective study habits. They help you process information faster and, most importantly, retain the material.
1. Control the duration of study sessions
In his book Memory and Forgetting, Ebbinghaus notes that interest and attention are linked to our ability to memorize information. In the context of building study habits, this means that your learning sessions need to be long enough to immerse yourself into the topic but not too long for you to lose focus. The recommended time frame is about 30 minutes. Sometimes EssayService can be useful when assignments pile up and short study sessions don’t allow you to complete everything in time. When this happens, you can delegate some of your tasks to the writer to be able to maintain a healthy and effective study schedule.
2. Take regular breaks
Spacing retrieval of learned information makes your study sessions more effective. Instead of doing your homework for 3-4 hours without breaks, divide your study session into smaller chunks with consistent 5-10 minute breaks between them. It gives the brain time to create and strengthen neuron connections, which significantly improves information retention and prevents you from feeling exhausted.
3. Create a review schedule and track your progress
To slow down the forgetting process, you should review information regularly. Yet, being chaotic won’t help. You should organize your review schedule. The general advice is to review new information immediately after you’ve learned it, a day later, a week later, and a month later. With each review session, you’ll be able to remember more information (about 40% of the material after the second revision, 60% after the third, and 80% after the fourth). Tracking your progress allows you to control the repetition schedule and feel a sense of improvement.
4. Maintain a consistent sleep routine
Sleep is vital for effective learning. It facilitates memory consolidation that allows transferring what you’ve learned into long-term memory. When you sleep, synaptic connections between neurons become stronger, minimizing forgetting. Therefore, sleep is almost like another study session, which reactivates the connections between neurons. Thus, make sure you get eight hours of sleep each night and consider taking a nap during the day.
To Sum Up
To optimize your performance in college, you should cultivate study habits that create favorable conditions for your brain to strengthen connections between neurons. Spacing out your study sessions and thus information retrieval is an effective way to learn faster and with less effort. It is effective regardless of your age or the subject area you’re studying. You can use it to learn any kind of information or skill. Repeated exposure to the material is the only way to retain information for years and be extraordinarily productive as a student.