Useful Tips

  • 1. Create diagrams showing the relationships between ideas (Mind maps).

    This is a manual way you can create connections. The importance is that you explore as many different ways to connect ideas as possible, not just repeating the same diagrams.

  • 2. Learning Through Visualization

    Another way to make ideas more concrete is simply to imagine them in a visual format. When I was learning computer programming, I often tried to connect the abstract concepts of variables, functions or polymorphism into more vivid, visual descriptions. If a variable becomes a jar or a function becomes a crazy pencil sharpener, you’re more likely to remember the relationship later.

  • 3. Learning Through Metaphor

    Connect ideas together by relating them to something you already understand. Relate complex physical equations to their real life counterparts. Imagine a derivative as the speedometer on a car.

  • 4. Can You Explain it To a Five-Year Old?

    Another trick to connect ideas together is to connect a very difficult idea, to something you understand easily. If you had to teach whatever subject you’re learning right now to a five-year old, what would you do? This exercise forces you to simplify. Instead of dealing in abstracts you now have to deal in concretes. I’m not suggesting you can teach senior level chemistry courses to a first-grader. However, if you get in the habit of simplifying things for yourself, it will be easier for you to understand it yourself. Teaching something is often the best way to learn it.

  • 5. Learning with a Group

    Most memorization is a solo pursuit. But connecting ideas doesn’t have to be. If you get several people together and work to try to explain a subject to each other, you get the benefit of several brains forming connections to the same topic. This is applying the wisdom of brainstorming to help you learn faster.

  • 6. The 70% Rule for Self-Education

    Whenever I try to learn anything on my own, I strive to maintain a 70% rule. This means I try to achieve 70% understanding and memory of a set of ideas before moving forward. Even though I’m missing 30% of the information, I can cover ground more quickly. Besides, I can always come back to reacquaint myself with something that was missed in the first pass.The reason this approach works is that it takes as much effort to learn the last 20% of information as it does to learn the first 80%. By moving forward, you can ensure you’re focusing your learning efforts on what really matters, and not the minute details of a subject.

  • 7. Of course, There are Tiny Things to Memorise too

    There are odd formulas or definitions you may have to memorize specially for exams. But that is minimal ! And again if you see a pattern or relate to concept, need less effort to remember.

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