The Best Study Method – My Gift To You
Today, I would like to give you a different kind of article. I want to give you a gift.
During my first year at UCLA, my psychology professor handed us a gift. He had himself received that gift from his psychology professor when he was in college.
While in college my professor was a varsity basketball player. He was very good and trained hard every day. However, by the end of his second year he realized that basketball was fun, he was good at it, but it wouldn’t carry him to the place he wanted to get to. He realized that to get a sense of fulfillment he needed to become a great academic. He wanted to become the best researcher.
So, he decided to switch careers. He’d stop playing basketball and start his academic career.
… He had to learn how to study!
A little lost he asked his psychology professor what the best study method was. And that’s the gift he received, the gift he handed us down, and that’s what I am giving you now.
It’s called the 3 x 3 x 3 method.
It’s very simple.
Yet, it’s very effective.
My professor went on to triple major (Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology) in 2 years with a 4.0 GPA.
He studied like crazy, but the method worked like magic.
The 3 x 3 x 3 Method
Review 3 min after class. Time required: 15 min ~ 20 min
You might have already heard about this, but you might not know why it works.
- Your brain is very good at discarding things, forgetting them. If you don’t review the material right away, your brain will discard up to 85% of what it learned an hour before.
In other words, if you don’t review right away, you’ve basically just wasted one hour of your time…
- By reviewing right away, you will retain about 70% of what you reviewed until night time. That’s a good use of 15 min, in my opinion.
It’s also your chance to make sure you understand all the concepts while they are fresh in your mind, and go to office hours to get some clarifications if you need them. Saves time for later.
Review 3 hours after class. Time required: 45 min ~ 90 min, depending on your class and your homework load.
3 hours after class basically means to review when you get home at night. You will review as to understand the concepts and memorize the material you covered in class today. Take the time to jot down a few graphs or drawings if they help you really tie the full concept of the lesson together. Create a story around the material that helps you remember it.
This is also the time when you do your homework, or catch up on textbook reading.
Why do you have to do this 3 hours later, on the same day?
- Otherwise your brain will think that the material you reviewed this morning is not that important after all. ZAAAP! The material is sent into oblivion!
But by exposing the material to your brain at night too, it tells it that this must be quite important and that he needs to pay attention and hold it in memory a little longer.
Review 3 days after class. Time required 15 min ~ 25 min.
By this stage, your brain will do what it can to keep the material in memory… just in case. But by the 3rd day, if it appears that you don’t need the material,… it will start discarding it again.
So what do you do? You test yourself on the material you studied 3 days ago. Go over your notes once, and then self-quiz yourself on the important concepts or nomenclature form that class. If you had homework, go over the questions you found difficult.
- That’s it. The material is now in your long term memory.
You will have a much easier and fluid time reviewing for a midterm or for a final. You will be able to sleep well that night, and be fully focused during the test.
A good part of the material you learned will stay with you for a much longer time though. You won’t forget everything 5 min after the test is over.
Who will benefit from this study method?
Long term retention and understanding of the material is especially useful if:
- You plan on being the best in your field.
- You plan on doing research and combining different knowledge and concepts together.
- You will need to apply that knowledge in your work for the rest of your life (pre-med anyone?)
Now, this method is a lot of work! To be honest, I only used it in classes I really cared about, or that where especially challenging-memory wise. For all the other classes, I used the second best study method: Cramming!
But if you happen to have one of these goals,… I just wanted to let you in on this method.