Ultimate Guide to Studying for Exams: An Evidence Based Process | Lim Yi Qi | Skillshare

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Ultimate Guide to Studying for Exams: An Evidence Based Process

teacher avatar Lim Yi Qi

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What We'll Learn

    • 3. Low Yield Study Techniques

    • 4. Active Recall

    • 5. Spaced Repetition

    • 6. Introduction to Practicals

    • 7. Scoping Your Subject

    • 8. Cornell Notes System

    • 9. Feynman Technique

    • 10. Anki & Memorisation

    • 11. Practical Revision Tips

    • 12. What to Do During Exam Season

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About This Class

Hey there! Welcome to an evidence-based course designed to give you a step-by-step process you can apply immediately to make your revision more efficient and effective!

We'll be talking aboutĀ the 3 most intuitive but low yield study techniques thatĀ are used by the majority of students, which may sadly include you, but do not worry!

You will learnĀ the theory behind the two most important revision concepts: active recall and spaced repetition

Finally, I'll be giving you my personal 4-step revision process you can use to immediately apply to make your studying more effective and efficient!

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Lim Yi Qi


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1. Introduction: It's weird. Parents and teachers are always telling us that study is very important. Yet no one actually tells us how to study effectively. Research suggests that the study techniques that most students use or are most intuitive to students are actually the least effective. So today I'll be sharing with you and evidence-based revision process. And hopefully through this course you can pick up some tips and tricks to help you meet your revision more effective and efficient. This course is designed as a step-by-step walk-through to guide you on what to do when you're facing a new topic or a new subject. And Benjamin Franklin summarizes the philosophy of this course rather well, tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn. So grab a textbook, pen and paper, and I hope you get involved. 2. What We'll Learn: This course will be split into two, a theory part and a practical part. I'll first talk about some low yields study techniques that most students use, but I actually ineffective. Then I'll explain some of the theory behind the two most important concepts in studying. As you can see, it is active recall and space repetition. Then I'll show you how I apply these concepts into the four-step revision process in our practical part. And finally, we'll end with some practical revision tips and exam strategies that you can use. O and also, please don't watch the entire course. If you're busy, you can skip to the practical part or any video that interests you. Or if you're one of those people who are procrastinating and want to waste some time on the internet then hey, yeah, welcome. 3. Low Yield Study Techniques: Now we'll be entering into the theoretical part of our course. Let's talk about low yield study techniques. There are a lot of research around that tells us that the most intuitive study techniques that a lot of students are using are actually the most ineffective. We'll be talking about the tree, most US but least effective techniques and you can see if you're using them or not. The first will be talking about is re-reading. This is actually the worst thing you can do your time. The fact is it's too passive to be of any use. Research tells us that the more effortful we do something, the more we remember it. And when we are we reading, oftentimes our eyes look over the words and nothing really enters into our brains. How often we read a passage? Look up and go. What did I read? Now, don't get me wrong. Reading is definitely important if we are trying to understand something, but it shouldn't be our main mode of studying. Secondly, highlighting the obvious problem that we all have is that it's so easy to highlight too much stuff. But that's not the only problem. A second problem that I find myself having is that when I go back to review my highlights, it's easy to fall into the trap of falsely thinking that I know something just because I recognize it. It's important to note the fundamental difference between recognizing versus recalling. When I go over my highlights, I often recognize them like, yeah, I remember highlighting this, but when the exam comes and it's time for me to retrieve that particular set of information from my memory. I just don't seem to be able to do it. I know I highlighted it in green at the bottom left corner of that page with the picture of the atoms. I just can't remember what it is effect. There's a quote that I liked that really summarizes this concept. The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge. Thirdly, summarizing, summarizing can be effective, but not in the way most of us do it. Normal summaries involve opening a textbook, writing a main point in writing some points underneath. But nothing actually enters into our brains. The problem I have with notetaking is the information gets transferred from the textbook to the notebook. But information doesn't get transferred from the notebook to my brain. The real value of summarizing and note-taking is not to help us memorize the material. Rather, it's a way to help us understand the material, to lay it out in an organized and logical format. We'll talk more about note-taking in step two of the practical part of the course. Many students are using these three techniques because they are the easiest to use. And it is precisely because it is too easy and passive. Information just doesn't enter into our hits. We need to study more actively. And the next video discusses exactly how to do that. 4. Active Recall: If you think about it, the way we think, the way we move, the way we do anything at all is true electrical input from the brain carried by our nerves to the entire body. So it seems logical that in order to improve our coordination, our memory is by strengthening those connections that are in that active recall this just that active recall or active retrieval practice testing whatever you wanna call it, means recalling something from your brain at every stage of the learning process. And this way of studying absolutely blew my mind. When I first learned about it. I used the thing that testing was the last thing to do in the study process, that Azure only test myself after I've learned all the material. But this couldn't be further from the truth. Science tells us that effective studying means testing ourself and jogging your memory. And every chance we get this has something to do with our neurons. Biologically active recalling strengthens the connection between our neurons. You can see the blue stuff there that's called the myelin sheath. And the more we test ourselves, the thicker the myelin sheath becomes. And this prevents the electrical signal loss when neurons are firing. You can think about it as an information superhighway. If you're an athlete or music performer, the exact same thing happens when we practice our true or our musical instruments. It's common sense to us that the more you practice something, the better we become. We often say that, oh, we're good because I've done it so much as become muscle memory. Butt muscles themselves don't have memory. The reason we are good is because the exact same thing happens. The myelin sheet in our neuron becomes thicker. The more we use these neuropathways to practice our spot or our instrument, the easier, the better and more confident we become. And we want to achieve the exact same thing in our studies using active recall. 5. Spaced Repetition: There's this thing called the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve tells us how much of something we forget. And you can see immediately after learning something, there's a very rapid loss of memory. And within 20 minutes, only 58% of it is left. Within an hour, only 44% of it is left. And after six days, only a quarter of it is left in our memories. This goes to show us that our brains are not that good at retaining information. But there's a solution to this. And that solution is called space repetition. Space repetition is basically refreshing our memory every time we're about to forget something. This graph shows us the same forgetting curve. But after treatment of space repetition, you can see that every time we forget something up to the 80% map, we refresh our memories and it goes back up to a 100% map. And you can note this the more we do it, the less deep the curve becomes. That means the rate of forgetting decreases the more we employ space repetition. And because the rate at which we forget is lower, we don't have the refresh as often as the first, second, third time we do it. Space repetition essentially just transmits information from our short-term memory into our long-term memory. 6. Introduction to Practicals: It is time to apply the principles of active recall and space repetition. If you are able to, I encourage you to choose a topic from any of your subjects and try to follow along. While we'll never know what the most effective study technique will be. I believe this system comes quite close. If you strip away all the complexities around studying. Studying is just split into two factors, comprehension and memorization. We can understand things without remembering it. Just as we can memorize things without even understanding it. Just like the truly learned something, we have to both understand the concepts and remember the details. Keeping that in mind, here is our four-step process. The first step, scoping your subject, helps us to understand the bigger picture. The second step, note-taking, helps us to identify the important points in the textbook and transfer it into a place where it's all organized and it's all centralized. The concept is like completing a puzzle. We need to know how the big picture looks, but also how each individual puzzle piece fits together with each other. The third step is the Feynman technique. The Feynman technique takes all the information that we've gathered in step one and step two, and helps us tie it all together in a logical step-by-step Clear Format. Step four is Anki. This is a flashcard software that you can use to help your memorization. At the end, we'll briefly touch upon a few of the memory devices that we can use to help us memorize facts. 7. Scoping Your Subject: Now we're going to scope out subject using MindMaps and spider diagrams. And the idea is pretty straightforward. Mindmaps help us break up complex information into bite-sized chunks so that we are able to understand the details better, as well as having a firm grasp on the bigger picture. I think of it as a map. But for our studies, without it, we get lost in all the details and never seeing the bigger picture. A mind map helps us to become more organized and our minds understand better true diagrams. Then in words, it's just the way our brain works. We are visual creatures. We have evolved over thousands of years, relying predominantly on our site as hunter-gatherers. And even though in the modern era, we have developed tools for putting our ideas down on paper. Our brains are just hardwired to store information better in diagrams and pictures rather than words. Here you can see the different types of disorders in the field. And you probably know some of the more famous ones, like the eating disorders. You've heard of anorexia and bulimia. And under personality disorders, you probably heard of obsessive compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD. For the purposes of this course, I chose the topic of depression from mood disorders because that's just what I'm currently doing right now. As you can already see, every subject in health care is huge. And it's important for me to know where I am in the view so I don't get overwhelmed and loss by all the details and everything that I need to study. Hopefully you've chosen a topic and you can do it the usual way. But I'll show you how I like to do it because it incorporates elements of active recall in it. I start by writing down the main topic, writing down any subtopics that I can remember just from my memory. And it doesn't matter how much I remember. Because after writing down what little I remember, I look at the textbook and fill in whatever that I missed. And I like to do it with a different color. This way instead of just being a map. This map actually tells me that I'm familiar with the topics in blue. But for the topics in red, which I supplement that, I'm actually not familiar with it. And I need to pay extra attention to it. I just like doing it this way because it helps me to fill in the gaps of knowledge that I didn't know I had. 8. Cornell Notes System: Now we're gonna be learning about the Cornell note system. This system helped me take faster and more organized notes and it makes it easier to review the notes in the future. We start by separating the page into three sections. The left column will be four questions, the right column will be four answers to those questions. And at the bottom does leave a little bit of space of the lines to write the summary. Instead of making notes like usu and just copying the points down. This system tells us to create questions and write our notes based around answering those questions. At the bottom, I use my own words to summarize any of the core concepts or any thoughts that I might have during my study session in order to use these notes when we're reviewing them in the future. Cover up the right column and ask yourself the questions in the left column. Tried to answer them and see whether or not you've got them correct. This way of reviewing by asking ourselves questions is a much better system and more active than just passively rereading our old conventional notes. One of the good points about university is that you don't have to do your notes on paper anymore. I use a software called Evernote to take my notes. And here you can see me taking my notes for depression. It's still important for us to understand that even with this system were taking more organized notes. Notetaking and summarizing itself is still a low value activity. As in not much stuff enters into our brains. The main use of notes is to organize things in a logical manner. And the true value of this system is that we are able to do more active reviews in the future by trying to answer questions rather than just passively rereading material. I highly recommend everyone pause the video and read whatever I have written in the summary, because I think these are things that everyone should know, especially the first two points. 9. Feynman Technique: Richard fineman is one of the great physicists of the 20th century. And while I don't have the necessary physics background to explain to you how great physicist he was. Something he said really resonated with me. If you want to learn something well, explain it. The Feynman technique is great for learning concepts because it forces us to explain things in a step-by-step logical manner. Because of that, it helps us realize gaps in our knowledge that we previously didn't know we had as finance it, the first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. The Feynman technique is simple. Step one, a topic step to pretend you're explaining it to a child. If you've talked to children before, you know that a child's favorite question is why? Constantly asking ourselves why forces us to break down complex information into simpler and more intuitive chunks of info. At the top you can see me oversimplifying a complex disease like depression in just a few sentences. Step three, identify gaps and go back to the source material. Very often, I'll get stuck somewhere because I don't really understand something. And rather than being bad, being stuck is actually a great thing. This lets me pinpoint the exact part that I don't know. And I get to read up on it to fill the gap in my knowledge. Step for review and simplify. Go back and see if we resorted to using complex terms to explain something, which usually means that we haven't understood that part well enough. And try to break it down further into simpler English. Here I see that I'm using really technical terms to describe the symptoms of depression. And so I'm turning into simpler English. And there you have it. You've acquired a new skill explaining something. The ultimate test of our own understanding. The Feynman technique not only allows us to organize the information logically in our brain, but a allows us to pinpoint exactly where that we have gaps in our knowledge. And as we've discussed before, the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but it is the illusion of knowledge. Therefore, it's important to use the Feynman technique to pinpoint the exact areas where we think we already know the topic. But in fact, we really don't. I highly recommend that you try it for yourself. And if you're able to complete one run of the Feynman technique on your chosen topic. Congrats you've understood it well enough. Okay. Right. 10. Anki & Memorisation: Anki is a flashcard app that shows you a card and you answer it in your mind. If you got it right, then Anki will automatically bury their card and show it to you on a later date. If you got it wrong in Anki will make sure that you get it right by asking you over and over again until you get it right. I absolutely love unhappy. Because the best part about it is that it's all automated. Its algorithm in corporate. Two most effective ways of studying active recall, n space repetition. And I can trust the system to do its job. All I need to do is just hammer away at the cards. And stuff automatically gets uploaded into my brain. As long as I am hardworking enough, diligent enough in doing the cards, whatever info that I type into Anki, It will one day be uploaded into my brain. I'm just here to introduce you to the concept of Anki. Without going into all the details. I'll include a link where you can go and download Anki for yourself. And I highly recommend you trying it out. But note that Anki is best used when you still have some time, like a few months before your exam. Because for the space repetition algorithm to work most efficiently, it takes time. So if you're really close to your exams, just do step one to step three, which is doing the Feynman technique, is good enough. I've been using Anki for years now. And you can see the amount of information and cuts that I have. If for some reason you don't want using IHI, there are still other ways to memorize facts. We'll be talking about analogies and mnemonic devices and allergies or comparisons of two topics that work the same way. One of the analogies that we learned early on in science or biology is that enzymes and substrates are like lock and key. Sinon. Actually, the hand and glove analogy is more accepted by the scientific community, but because they are analogies and they are loose comparisons, it, it's okay if you use either 1 second popular way to memorize facts is by using mnemonic devices. One way to make a mnemonic is to take the first letters of the series of facts and stringing together. A famous example would be you Roy GBV. These stand for the colors of the rainbow as well as the arrangement of colors. A second example of mnemonic devices is by using song's lyrics from a catchy popular song can be modified and replaced with facts. And a similar method is to use catchphrases or things that rhyme to memorize facts. And some medical ones that I can think of off the top of my head are mode in the code, at least in the heat, which describes dimorphic fungi. And the catchphrase like clean up on Io, which describes the interleukin eight as a chemotaxis for neutrophils. And I am so, so sorry because that was gibberish to the majority of you, but those were the ones that I could think of from the top of my head. A third example would be the method of loci or what small, popularly known as the mind palace. And if you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you will know that Sherlock Holmes uses this method. And theoretically, we could store infinite amounts of information in mind palaces. And this is the method used by a world memory champions. Yeah, but I personally don't use them. So I don't know much. You can go research yourself. And this brings us to the end of the practical portion. Just a recap. Studying is about understanding and memorization. We must first see the big picture and then note down the little details that we have to know. After that. We have to tie them together in a coherent and logical manner using the Feynman technique. Lastly, in order to help memorization, you can use a flashcard app like Anki, analogies or any one of the mnemonic devices. 11. Practical Revision Tips : Today I want to talk about revision tips that you can apply immediately to your revision to make it more efficient and effective. When we are starting to study, the first thing that almost all of us do is to plan or a revision timetable. The problem is, we can never seem to follow this revision timetable. A typical time table looks like this. We take out the calendar and we write down the dates first. And then we choose that on this particular day, I will study this topic. On that particular day, I will study that topic. And the issue is we seem to be never able to follow this revision timetable. The problem with this sort of time table is that we are predicting the future. We are essentially saying that on this particular day, we predicted our future self who have enough motivation to study this topic and this amount of topics. In fact, the timetable that you should be using needs to be the exact opposite of what you are doing. Now, let me give you an example. Instead of writing the dates First, we need to write all the topics that we need to study. After listing down those topics on any particular day, we choose the topic to study on that day itself. This alleviates the problem of having to predict the future. But instead, we focus on the present and the now. We are choosing the topic to study on that day itself. The benefit of using this system is that we are able to see if we've missed any topics. And another bonus is that we are able to plan our second, third revision using space repetition. If we see that, oh, I haven't touched this topic for quite some time. Let's do this today. Additionally, I like to color code my sessions. I color-coded red if I feel like I'm not confident in it. And if on that day I'm starting to get the general idea of what's going on, then I color-coded yellow. And if I'm fairly confident on the topic already, then I color-coded green using these color codes, I can plan my next study sessions more efficiently and effectively. If I see that the topic is in green, then I can space the next study session even further. If I see that the topic is yellow, then I'll try to schedule a study session in a few days. If I see a topic that's still in red, I know that I have to do another study session the next day or the day after. Secondly, let's talk about past years. Generally. The closer you are to your exams, the more parsers you should do pastures are king, this the most important resource that you should have to prepare for your exams. And I dare say that the more postures that you do, the better you will do in your actual exams. The reason being passes allow us to study more actively than passively rereading our notes. And additionally, it helps us take advantage of a concept called interleaving. Think of it this way. In a basketball game, you have individual skills such as dribbling, shooting, passing, and Leia, pz, etcetera. But in an actual basketball game, all of those skills. Mixed up together. The mark of a good basketball player is being able to switch between all these individuals use seamlessly. The same thing happens in our studies. We study individual topics by itself, but in exams, all of those topics are mixed together. And we need to be able to transition from one mode of thinking to another mode of thinking or from chapter to chapter. And by doing parsers, we are able to simulate the real exam environment and the real exam format and helps us to practice interleaving. Thirdly, procrastination. Procrastination is essentially a battle between your conscious mind, your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is telling you to do is to choose the actions that will immediately fix our mood, such as watching Netflix, playing video games or even searching on YouTube for videos such as these. Where as our conscious brain tells us that we really need to study even though it's difficult and hot and cognitively taxing, we still need to study. Otherwise, we will regret in the future. The way I deal with procrastination is more of a mindset fix, I break down the things that I need to do into microscopic tasks that I know I can handle, such as if I need to study, but I'm lazy. Then I ask myself, can I put down my phone? Can either walk to my study table. Can I open the book? Can I read a sentence? If I can read a sentence, I can read a paragraph. If I can read a paragraph, then I definitely can read the entire chapter. Four, flee, know when to quit. Personally, I can only focus for around 20 minutes at a time. And after that, my attention just goes everywhere. Knowing my own personal limits. I do 20 minutes of intense studying and then ten minutes of break afterwards, I might take a nap or take a walk. If I tried to push myself beyond the 20 minutes, the efficiency of my studying session decreases by a lot. My eyes would just glance over the woods and nothing actually enters into my brain. So I might as well use that time to take a break, refresh my mind, and then come back again. The, the fifth thing I want to talk about is general health and Mintaka, what generally, we cannot skip the three pillars of health, sleep, diet, and exercise. In order to keep a refresh mine, We need to get around seven to nine hours of sleep and more sleep and memory is a complex topic and we still don't know the exact mechanisms of how it happens. We still can see general trends. First of all, a sleep deprived persons can focus their attention optimally and no-brainer, it means that we cannot study efficiently if we can't focus. Secondly, sleeping actually helps us in the consolidation of our memory. Research tells us that to study effectively, they are treating there we need to do, we need to acquire the knowledge. We need to consolidate the knowledge into memory, and then we need to be able to retrieve it later on. And well, acquisition and retrieval are conscious processes. Consolidation is really an unconscious process that happens when we sleep. If you've seen the movie Inside Out, that's exactly what they want to portray. When the main character sleeps, all the memory balls are like falling into place. And you can see the five emotion characters salting out the memories for her. That's exactly what happens. This means that staying up the Cram or even not sleeping the night before your exams to cram everything into your brain actually is a garbage strategy. And we'll talk more about that in the exam strategy, reduce coming up. Secondly, diet. Eat healthy as usual. There's really no need to buy tonic drinks, essences, or vitamins or supplements. Unless you're in the minority of the population that really has a nutritional deficiency. Or if you just want expensive urine, either way, just do whatever makes you happy. There's no scientific basis in taking multivitamin supplements. But there's this thing called the placebo effect. And if you feel good taking something and it makes you happy mice will just take it. If you're willing to spend the money. If you think taking vitamins or fish oils make you more motivated to study, then sure, go ahead. Why not? The li exercise get that heart rate up at least three times a week for 20 minutes sessions each. That's all. Lastly, in this modern era, a special mention goes to screen time. We generally advise people to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which is for every 20 minutes of screen time, we should look at an object that is at least 20 meters away for at least 20 seconds. That way our eyes don't get fatigue from looking at a near object for too long. So that wraps up our five practical revision tips that you can apply immediately to make your study more effective and efficient. 12. What to Do During Exam Season: Hey guys, welcome back to the channel. Today we'll be talking about exam tips. In this video, we'll be talking about your mindset and the things that you should be doing before your exams, during your exams and after your exams the month before. Focus on your understanding, not on memorization. Make mindmaps, take notes. More importantly, do the Feynman technique for every topic that your income, the explained things in your own words, see which parts you don't understand, read up on it, tried to understand everything. And after you've understood as much as you can, only when two weeks before the exam you should start actively memorizing things the week before. Drop your books and start doing pastures. There's no huge passively rereading your books anymore. The more pastures you do in this period of time, the better your grades will be. Time yourself to simulate the examiner environment. Once you're done with the paper referred to the answers or your reference book to try to understand the questions that you didn't get. Once you've understood the question and the answer, move on. There's no time to dwell on the details. The day before, get enough sleep. Sleep refreshes are mine and washes away the metabolic competence in our brain. You can think of these metabolic toxins as much. And the less we sleep, the more these toxins accumulating in our brain. And it muddies our brains so that we can focus our attention optimally. And if we can focus, then it doesn't matter how much information we are able to cram into our brains, because at the end of the day, we are unable to retrieve them anyways and take note staying up late or not sleeping at all the night before to cram information into our brains is hands down a garbage strategy. But in emergency situations when we really haven't studied anything at all for this exam, then you can go ahead and stay up late. But just take note it's not the most optimal solution. And be prepared to deal with the sleepiness and lack of attention when you're in the exam hall later also, alarms. You don't want to be over sleeping and waking up late for your exam the morning of the exam, double-check the time and location for your exam. Stay calm and do whatever the heck makes you happy. If you think your supplements or fish oil or drinking milk in the morning makes you happy and motivated to do the exam. Go for it. If you think that you need an extra energy boost right before the exam, you can bring an apple and before you enter the exam hall just needed. I personally always stretch before I do an exam. I think it makes me happy. It makes me relax. There is no scientific utility to it. It's nonsense, but it makes me happy. So you bet that I'm not writing my exam without my stretches. If you're calm before the exam, you can bounce questions and answers off of your friends. If you're panicking before the exam, avoid all forms of human life at any cost. New information that your friend or teachers may tell you before the exam can really screw your existing knowledge. And it just tips everything of your sense by early into more panic. After the exam. Have a mini celebration, eat ice cream, do whatever makes you happy. But after that, it is very important. It is the most important thing that you need to reset your emotions, no matter how sad or how happy you felt during the last exam, it doesn't matter for the next exam, reset your emotions and move on to the next paper.