Personal Growth

This Simple Reading Technique Can Boost Your Memory and Learning Speed

The scene is not an unfamiliar one: You end your study session Sunday night knowing everything there is to know about Napoleon Bonaparte. But Monday morning when that exam slides onto your desk, all you can recall is the llama scene from Napoleon Dynamite. Dammit, Tina! Turns out an impossibly easy study hack that could've saved the day was right under your nose the whole time. Literally.

So Long, Flash Cards

In December 2017, a study from the University of Waterloo delivered a face-palmingly simple learning technique. Hope you're sitting down for this one: If you want to remember something, read it out loud. Mind. Blown. The researchers found that speaking what you read aloud helps to get it into your long-term memory. Easy as that.

This study hack works due to something the researchers dubbed the "production effect," or the fact that actually producing the words you read with your voice has a big impact on memory. Reading out loud lets you visually and audibly receive the information at the same time. "This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement," psychologist and co-author of the study Colin MacLeod said in a statement. "When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable."

Keep It Simple, Student

"Say the information that you want to remember out loud and you'll have a higher likelihood of remembering it," MacLeod told Inc. "Yes, it's that simple!" And he's not kidding. His study tested four methods of learning written information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of yourself reading, and reading aloud in real time. The winning method was — drumroll please! — reading aloud in real time, which gave participants between a five and fifteen percent boost in learning speed. Wish you knew that one in school, right?

While we're at it, here's another tip for getting the most out of your studying: Be deliberate. Reading out loud is one thing, but be clear about what you're about to study and why. A study published in April 2017 by a Stanford research fellow explains how a deliberate studying technique can get As out of B+ students. According to Patricia Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, having students focus on how they plan to use their study time is what shows real results.

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Written by Joanie Faletto January 24, 2018

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