At times in our lives, we need to learn things fast.
Let’s say that you quit your job to start something new. You need to learn the tasks in a few days. That means you need to hit the ground running.
How do you learn as quickly as possible?
You have a variety of techniques that fast learners use, such as mnemonics, the Richard Feynman technique, spaced repetition, metaphors, and interleaving. What you use depends on what you want or need to learn (i.e vocabulary or mathematics).
If you’d like to learn more about how to learn fast, keep reading because we will discuss a few ways to help in the fastest time possible.
Mnemonics simply refer to any system or device used to remember things fast. It is best known as a memory aid. It can be a pattern, ideas, or associations that help you to remember the details of specific things you want to learn.
The most effective way to remember the colors in the rainbow is through its acronym ROYGBIV. It stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
There are 9 types of mnemonics:
- Music mnemonics– This type of mnemonic uses music to recall information faster and more easily. One great example is how the medieval bards would sing their stories to recall them better.
- Name mnemonics– The use of the first letter of each word that you are trying to remember. For example, the colors of the rainbow that we used above.
- Word mnemonics– Each item in a list is used to form a word such as PEMDAS in recalling the order of operations in mathematics.
- Model mnemonics– Diagram and any other representation to understand and recollect information.
- Ode or rhyme mnemonics– We’ve all heard the rhyme used to remember the year Christopher Columbus sailed to the new world. If you haven’t heard it, here it is, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
- Note organization mnemonics –The way how texts are organized can aid learning and recalling. Notecards, outlines, and the Cornell System are the three examples of the note organization mnemonics format.
- Image mnemonics – As its name suggests, these kind of mnemonics use pictures or images to remember the information that you need.
- Connection mnemonics – Let’s say you know someone named Rusty who loves to eat fish. You can remember his name whenever you see fish. The connection between him and the fish is a helpful memory aid. That is known as connection mnemonics.
- Spelling mnemonics – To remember the word arithmetic, just recall the phrase A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream. This type of mnemonic is very useful to recall the spelling of difficult words.
The Feynman Technique
Inspired by Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, this technique is used to explain complex concepts in a way that any ordinary person can understand.
For example, how do you explain acceleration to a six-year-old boy?
Using the technique, you eliminate the technical terms that can cause confusion. For example, you eliminate confusing terms like velocity and switch it out to speed. Acceleration is the speeding up of an object. For example, a moving car. Now, velocity and speed do have a difference in physics, but for the sake of understanding, we use speed. We can then elaborate on the differences when required.
Below are the four steps on how to perform the Feynman Technique:
- Select a topic and study, write down all your ideas regarding the topic.
- Explain it to another person or yourself as if you are teaching a six-year-old boy.
- Fill the gaps, which means going back from the start but only focusing on the things that get you stuck.
- Review and simplify, use an analogy to make your topic more understandable.
The main point of this method is: If you’re not capable of explaining something simply to a child, you don’t understand it yourself either.
Expert Tip: Explain the idea simply and in as few words as possible.
Our brains lose information over time. We are bombarded with new information every day. In a study performed by Stanford University, there are about 125 trillion synapses in the cerebral cortex alone. It is said that an adult human brain can store one trillion bytes of information.
Due to the massive information we acquire through time, our brains can’t recall all of it. If you are a student, you need to review your old notes. This is known as spaced repetition; the act of revisiting materials in an interval to retain the information.
What are the steps to perform this method?
- Plan to have a brief yet frequent review.
- Set aside a regular time to study.
- Start with reviewing old materials.
- Integrate the old material with the new.
- Make summaries and a checklist.
Metaphors prove a powerful study technique for quick learning and better comprehension of ideas.
Let’s take an example when learning the grammar of writing. We will use this for prepositions. How do you remember prepositions? Prepositions to remember as a metaphor are any directions a mouse can take. Can he go under something? Then, it’s a preposition. Can he go over something? Also, a preposition.
Now, the metaphor does have its differences from the concept that you want to describe. That’s okay. In fact, that enriches your understanding because you want to know where the metaphor differs from the idea you want to understand.
In the case with prepositions and mice, up and down are not considered a preposition. These are some prepositions: above, against, across, along, among, around, at, behind, below, beside, between, beneath, by, down, from, in, on, to, toward, into, near, of, off, under, upon, with and within.
During a study session, a student allots himself 20 minutes to study Physics, 20 minutes for Calculus, and 20 minutes for Chemistry, then switch back to the first subject.
This process is called interleaving. You juggle your subjects while learning. It is known to be especially effective in math, chemistry and physics – subjects that require problem-solving.
Interleaving helps students to distinguish between concepts that allow them to identify what strategy to use. One group of researchers believes that interleaving works because of how it provides you with creative inspiration. Through diverse perspectives, you come up with rich insights that you may not have seen without it.
Effective Techniques For Quick Learning
To sum it up, the speed of learning depends on the learning technique that you use. Mnemonics work well for remembering things fast, the Feynman technique assists you to learn fast by simplifying complex ideas into something easily digested. Spaced repetition is best used to recall information despite the massive volume of data our brain absorbs. Metaphors easily illustrate a certain concept for fast understanding, and finally, use interleaving if you want to learn multiple concepts fast.
Whether you are a student who wants to ace your exams, someone who wants to learn a new language, a newbie to a totally different job, or whatever it is that you want to learn fast, pick a technique that you think will work best for you.
Try any of these techniques and see which works best for your mind and the subject you’re learning.