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this guy howard richman.

makes this page that’s supposed to outline a few principles for studying.

I think he’s got it all wrong. His “rules” will leave you in the gutter, not at the top of your class.

Here’s a summary of his points, and my problems in bold below each.

  1. Study in Short, Frequent Sessions.
    It has been proven that short bursts of concentration repeated frequently are much more effective than one long session. So, even if you only have 10 minutes, DO IT. Take a break. Then study another 10 minutes. This “distributed learning” approach is highly efficient because it honors the way the brain likes to work. The brain needs recovery and recharging time for “protein synthesis.” The rest periods are when your brain assimilates your effort. They are a powerful tool which many teachers do not acknowledge. To sit and study for hours and hours is not only boring, it creates fatigue, stress, and distraction. You cannot learn if you are fatigued, stressed, and distracted!

    No!! Studying for 10 minutes is usually enough to just get started. If you take a break too often, you’ll never get into the ‘zone’, which is when you actually study for one or two hours on end, without being distracted from your work.
    When you’re in the zone, its like watching a good movie, believe it or not. You’re engaged in what you’re doing. Interruption, in this case, is pretty much going to cut back progress (do you like to pause a good movie in the middle, and take a 10 minute break? Not if you’re really into the movie!)

  2. Take Guilt-Free Days of Rest.
    This follows the same principle as above, but on a longer, daily time cycle. The reason for resting is to refresh oneself. However, if you feel guilty (“I really should be studying”) then your precious rest period has been used to create more stress. The brain will not absorb new data if it is stressed. On days off from studying, really enjoy yourself and do not feel bad about not studying.

    Depends just how often these full days off occur. Frequent days off are bad news.

    Somebody under tight deadlines should only very rarely give himself a taste of full freedom from work. Its just too sweet — it can be hard to get back into the swing of things if you’ve taken too much time off. Full days off can make you lazy or extra further behind the next day you do get back to work.

    Sometimes if you need some time off, a block of 5-10 hours does the trick, without making you fall behind as much or making you as lazy or reluctant to get back to work.

  3. Honor Your Emotional State.
    Do not study if you are tired, angry, distracted, or in a hurry. When the brain is relaxed, it is like a sponge and it naturally absorbs data without effort. If you are emotionally stressed, your brain literally repels data. Forcing yourself to sit and study when your mind is on other things is a complete waste of time!

    NO. Again FATAL. People use this as an excuse not to study. Soon, they run out of time and the test is the next day. They were too “emotionally stressed” to sit down and study in the entire WEEK that was before, and now they’re emotionally stressed and in a bind!

    Once you sit down and begin to study, sometimes you can totally forget your problems.

  4. Review the Same Day.
    When you learn something new, try to go over the points the same day. If you wait a few days and then make efforts to review the material, it will seem much less familiar. However, a quick review later in the day will tend to cement the information into your brain so that the next “official” study session, you will recognize it and it will seem easy.

    This is a good tip. But most people are too damn lazy to do this one.

  5. Observe the Natural Learning Sequence.
    Think of the activities you did when you were in nursery school. Using your whole arm, you probably performed the song that goes: “Put your right hand in, Put your right hand out.” Then, in kindergarten, using your hand, you might have been asked to draw lines or circles with crayons. Later, in first grade, now holding the pencil with your fingers, you drew smaller lines and circles to create letters. Believe it or not, this natural learning sequence, moving from large to small, coarse to fine, still remains effective even though we are now older. When you study, if you try first to grasp the big picture and then fill in the details, you often have a more likely chance of success.

    What? Big picture, then details, sure. Crayons and circles? :).

  6. Use Exaggeration.
    Why does a baseball batter warm up by swinging two or three bats? Why do runners sometimes strap lead weights to their legs? In both cases, exaggeration during practice makes the final result seem easy. This concept can be applied to studying anything. For example, if you are studying spelling, exaggerate the sound of the letters to help to remember them. So for studying purposes, “naive” would be pronounced “NAY-IVY.” By getting used to this exaggerated pronunciation, the correct spelling seems obvious.

    Ok. I kind of agree with this one.

  7. Prepare Your Study Environment.

    If you require certain elements in your environment to help you study, try to always make these a priority. For example, do you need special lighting, silence, music, privacy, available snacks, etc.? Pay attention to what works for you and repeat it each time you study for best success.

    Is this studying or hibernation?

  8. Respect “Brain Fade.”

    It is normal for the brain to have an attrition rate and to forget things. This does not mean that you are stupid! Instead of getting mad about this fact, you should expect it and deal with it accordingly. See your brain as depositing layers of knowledge. As you place more information on top, the lower levels become older and less available to your immediate recall. The trick here is simply to review. Since we can anticipate the eventual fading of our memory, creating a review aspect to our study session will solve the problem. Once every two or three study sessions, simply review older material that you will be still needing to remember. Often, a quick overview is sufficient. Sometimes, a complete detailed study session of the older material is required. “Brain fade” is completely normal. (Unless you are gifted with a photographic memory, which is extremely rare.)

    Yeah yeah. Happens. Is this a “study tip” or should it just say “be patient with yourself”?

  9. Create a Study Routine.
    Generally, if you schedule certain times of the day to study, you will get into a routine and accomplish more. If you just “fit it in” during your day, chances are that there will never be any time. An effective way to do this is to literally mark it down in your datebook calendar as if you have an appointment, like going to the doctor. For example: “Tuesday 3-4:30 P.M. — Study.”

    Good point, but you should take that one step further. You should write exactly what you’re going to study, and what you’re supposed to finish in that 3-4:30pm time block.

    So you’d write something like: “Tuesday 3-4:30 PM — Problems 1-22 and 25-40 on page 108 of Math book”

  10. Set Reasonable Goals.

    One of the main reasons people do not reach their goals is because they set them too high. If you set goals that are manageable, even if they seem too simple, you get in the habit of accomplishing them and gradually you can set higher goals. Also, recognize the difference between long-term and short-term goals. Set your vision on the long-term dream, but your day-to-day activity should be focused exclusively on the short-term, enabling steps.

    Meh. More than anything this reminds me of Homer’s advice to his son: “aim low.”

    Sometimes people with great potential settle for mediocrity because mediocrity was their goal.

    Setting goals that SEEM unachievable at first may enable you to hit a higher target than if you set your goals low and just achieve them.

    I guess the most important thing is to not get discouraged too much if you miss your high goals.

    Something that may work for you is a tiered goal system: Set some unrealistically high goals and say “This would be really good if I could do this.” Then set the “realistic” or “fallback” goal and say: “but more likely, I’m going to only be able to do this.”

  11. Avoid the Frustration Enemy.
    Ironically, the quicker the person’s nervous system, the faster they learn. Yet, this fast nervous system also works overtime in being self-critical. So they are the ones who always think they aren’t going fast enough! In contrast, the “Type B,” less intense person who learns slower yet is more self-accepting, ends up ultimately learning the material in a shorter period of time. This is because he/she doesn’t waste energy blocking, getting upset, and thinking that they’re not good enough — they simply keep moving forward at a slower (but un-blocked) pace.

    Hmm. That’s an interesting point.

These tips were prepared by Howard Richman and are offered for free as a courtesy.

Why thank you, generous Howard.


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