Study Strategies

For long-term memory it is best to learn something then revise it later.

As we all know cramming gets you through the exam and then we blessedly forget all that stuff we crammed.

However, for stuff we are wanting to remember long-term, like acupuncture, cramming doesn’t work and neither does immediate over-learning; that is, learning it ’til you’ve got it and then going over it a few more times.  It is better to spend this extra time revising things learnt previously.

These are the findings from research conducted by psychologist Doug Rohrer at the University of South Florida and Hal Pashler of the University of California, San Diego.  They tested how much of a memorised word list was retained up to four weeks.  They have also done research on retention of abstract concepts with the same results.

So the story is:

get it clear in your mind, then let it rest for a while and revise it later. 

If you can have a routine of revision (say next week, then monthly) it may help to make it easier to get into the habit.

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