The biggest studying mistake that costs you time and good grades

Worst studying mistake

You know what they don't teach you in school?

How to study. It is ironic and it's a pity.

Many students (and probably even you) lose their time studying ineffectively and then they get worse final grades.

Let's have a look at the biggest studying mistake you’re probably also making.

Studying =/= rereading of notes

If you are highlighting notes and then you read them again and again, we've got bad news for you:rereading notes is not an effective studying method.

In other words, if you're doing this, you're wasting your own time.


Our brain learns by doing what we want to learn.

How do we learn to walk? By walking and falling on the ground.

How do we learn to speak? By speaking and attempting to express our thoughts.

How do we learn to dance? By dancing and stepping on other people's toes (and then apologizing profusely).

So, how could we learn to answer questions or speak about a topic by highlighting and rereading?

It doesn't make sense.

And science agrees with us.

Rereading leads to the illusion of knowledge

The main problem with rereading notes is that it leads to the illusion of knowledge.

How many times did this happen to you?You had reread your notes many times, but when you came to the examination and had to answer a question, you could only remember where the answer was in your notes, but notwhatit was.

'I know, it's on the fifth page at the top. Sh*t, what was it?'

That’s theillusion of knowledge.

When we are rereading the notes, our brain starts thinking that everything is crystal clear.

'Yeah, I know this. It's like that here, and like that there...'

But looking at the explanation and being able to explain it yourself are not the same thing.

How to study better? Rehearse the exam

We learn to walk by walking.

We learn to speak by speaking.

We learn to dance by dancing.

We learn to test by ___________.

Yeah, it's that simple.

During exams we need to:

  1. Understand the question
  2. Retrieve the relevant information from memory
  3. Put together our own answer

How should we therefore study (can you come up with answers yourself)?

When you're taking an exam, there are going to be many random questions about different parts of the topic. How should you study for this?

The best way to study

  1. Read the first topic, or part of it
  2. Try to come up with questions you could be asked
  3. Put away the notes and try to answer the questions you just came up with.
  4. Repeat until happy with your answers

After a day or a few hours, you can try to answer the questions again to see if you can recall the answer.

This is much more effective.

It tests the retrieval of correct (relevant) information and teaches us to form an answer in our own words.

Fact:Every time you retrieve a particular piece of information from your memory, you strengthen your ability to recall it when the test comes.

If you’d like to improve this process, you could group up with someone else, both of you create list of questions and you could test yourself. In this way, you're also getting better at the first step: understanding a question.

That's how you avoid the illusion of knowledge andsave time on studying, while learning more.

By testing yourself you’re going to see, what you don't know yet. When you find out that you don't remember something, try hard to recall what it was. The more you try to recall, the better your memory.

Finally, if you have no clue, go and have a look in the notes, but not after you've tried.

We've read many books and articles on tips and tricks about effective learning. There are techniques like creating mnemonic devices, interleaving different topics, or spreading out learning in time, but the most important tip of all is this:

Rehearse skills and knowledge as closely as you can to the real-world situation where you'll need it.

We learn to walk by walking.

We learn to speak by speaking.

We learn to dance by dancing.

We learn to answer questions by ________________.

If you try this, you’re going to notice that learning in this way costs more effort and energy than straightforward, but inefficient rereading of notes, but we swear on all academical indexesthat you are going to learn 10 times faster and better.

Here you go:the biggest studying mistake is not testing yourself.

Test yourself, or test each other with someone else, but mainly test yourself. You’re going to save time and you’re going to get better grades.

Test it out!

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