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Bite-size Psych is a weekly psy­chology column by sophomore Quin Colhour.

From high school, to college to graduate school, stu­dents are expected to adapt to a higher pressure envi­ronment with more demands. 

In the aca­demic area specif­i­cally, most stu­dents agree with the Inter­na­tional Journal of Asian Social Science’s con­clusion: “there is a sig­nif­icant rela­tionship between study habits and aca­demic performance.” 

Stu­dents pro­gressing to high levels of post-sec­ondary edu­cation will likely face sit­u­a­tions in which everyone around them has effective study habits. In these sit­u­a­tions, the defining factor will be the quality of studying per­formed above the quantity. Psy­cho­logical research has estab­lished at least three ways stu­dents can max­imize their learning effi­ciency when studying.

The first strategy involves mixing sub­jects together in inter­me­diate intervals known as ‘inter­leaving.’

An article on the subject from Effec­tiv­i­ology states “mixing material increases inter­ference during the per­for­mance of a task, which pro­motes the use of effective learning strategies by learners.” 

When the brain knows it must retain infor­mation while being dis­tracted by a dif­ferent subject, it recruits more effective con­cen­tration to learn the infor­mation more quickly. 

Sec­ondly, a study per­formed by the National Center for Biotech­nical Infor­mation (NCBI) showed that testing one’s own knowledge of the infor­mation learned was one of the most effective methods for preparing oneself for assess­ments such as exams. The study con­cluded that its “findings indicate that testing helps learning when learners must invest sub­stantial mental effort.” Thus, when there are large amounts of infor­mation to retain, self-testing enables stu­dents to invest the sub­stantial mental effort nec­essary to retrieve the infor­mation effectively.

Lastly, a student trying to teach what he wants to learn is one of the most effective learning strategies. An article by ResearchGate tells us that “explaining to others poten­tially offers more oppor­tu­nities to learn than explaining to oneself, because those who receive the expla­nation can also identify gaps and incon­sis­tencies and may demand clar­i­fi­cation or confrontation.” 

A student teaching what he’s learned forces him to make sure his under­standing is clear and logical enough to stand the test of criticism.