What are the Best Study Techniques According to Harvard?


Learning techniques are essential to acquire knowledge, and what better than Harvard’s recommendations to do so.

All students know that study techniques are of vital importance in the learning process and when taking an exam. If you are looking for new methods, Harvard University has launched some recommendations to retain more and better information.

The most challenging thing for a student is to find the proper method to understand, interpret and retain information. Some students are inclined to read in detail, while others prefer to listen to recorded lectures or make summaries in their notebooks on the topics they need to learn. There is no perfect recipe for everyone because each student has different processes, but some are more effective than others.

Harvard University, one of the most recognized higher education institutions globally, has conducted a study on different learning methods. It has been published in the book “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,” where they show which are the best techniques to retain relevant data when studying.

If you want to learn new techniques to improve your learning process or need writing help, you can use new methods. Here are the most effective strategies, according to Harvard academics.

1. Take handwritten notes:

Handwriting is not dead, according to these researchers. Although more and more students are using their laptops or tablets to take notes, it is better to take notes by hand because it improves the retention of ideas. Typing on a keyboard is so fast that the brain does not fully process the information, but when writing by hand, our mind is forced to think about the content, form, and summarize the most critical information.


2. Do not reread:

Contrary to popular belief, reading and rereading the exact text does not help retain information but is a waste of time. Our brain needs to make an effort to remember what we have read, so Harvard specialists recommend reading only once, analyzing the text in-depth, and then making an effort to remember what we have read and try to retain the essential information. We can test ourselves by writing down what we place in a brief outline.

3. Take a break while studying:

At the moment of studying, it is not helpful to do it for many hours since the brain, like all muscles, begins to fatigue. If your brain is tired, everything you study will surely be forgotten in a couple of days. To make your study hours more effective, take a few minutes break between subjects. Taking a short nap is also a great option to rest your mind and recharge your energy.

4. Study alternating between subjects:

When we study several subjects simultaneously, it is common to think that jumping from one subject to a topic only distracts us and does not allow us to concentrate correctly.

According to Harvard, this is a mistake. On the contrary, it is very beneficial for the brain to change subjects and alternate between subjects. Through the excellent organization, alternating content keeps us more attentive, and this facilitates the retention of information.

11 study techniques to enhance your learning

1. Underline what is important:

It is one of the most well-known study methods. You must highlight the most significant parts of the text using colors, a highlighter, pens, etc. Before underlining, you must read and understand the text.

2. Make your notes:

It is one of the best-known study habits. It is to summarize the most important things in your own words to remember them. Keep in mind that you should not leave out any critical information. You can do it the traditional way with pencil and paper or use online tools that allow you to make digital notes such as Quickoffice, Penultimate, Squid, Simplenote, and Moleskine Journal.

3. Mind mapping:

It is a very effective technique on how to study better that they teach you in school. A mind map summarizes and organizes our ideas. If we do it right, it can save us many hours of study and ensure that we get a good grade on the exam. You can make it yourself by hand or use digital tools such as Mindmanager, XMind, Coggle, Freemind, Goconqr, among others.

4. Study sheets:

If you want to assimilate factual data such as dates, numbers, or vocabulary, you should follow this learning method. It is helpful to use them in subjects that include the use of numbers or learning another language. It is a memorization process, but it is fun. You can elaborate flashcards manually or through apps such as Cram, Quizlet, Flashcard Machine, etc., that you can develop from your cell phone or PC.

5. Exercises and case studies:

Has it ever happened to you that you did not understand the theory or technique just by reading it?

Doing exercises or solving case studies is very useful to assimilate a theory more straightforwardly. It applies especially in Finance, Accounting, Statistics, Business, Physics, and all those that show problems and numbers. By solving them, we will be able to understand the application of the theory.

6. Test:

Taking tests in the days leading up to the exam is an excellent way to review and prepare for the big day. Here we can check which areas we are good at and which ones we still need to learn. We can also share tests with our peers and discover essential details we have missed.

7. Brainstorming:

Having a group meeting and brainstorming on a specific topic is one of the most helpful study methods when doing group work. Having different ideas and perspectives helps to solve doubts and get to the bottom of the subject if you are preparing for an exam. This technique is highly recommended.

8. Mnemonic Rules:

If you want to memorize lists and sets, you will like this technique. You only have to associate concepts with others that are more familiar to you. For example, CHON is used to remember the following elements of the periodic table: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen.

9. Organize your study:

Another technique you can use to learn to study better is developing a calendar and taking into account your goals and the time you have available. You can program it on your cell phone, link it to Google Calendar with alerts or make one by hand and put it in a visible place on your desk.

10. Picture-based methods:

The method for memorizing with pictures is to use your drawings to represent your ideas visually. The images created should be incorporated as mental images that will guide the memory of the elements they express and can be:

  • The figurative representation (for concrete ideas: the heart is represented by drawing it schematically.
  • The semantic relation (for abstract ideas): defense can be represented with a shield.
  • The linguistic similarity: rate is represented by drawing a cup.
  • The relationship by free or spontaneous association: Peru can be represented by drawing the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Sometimes it is easier to associate concepts with images or drawings. If you find this easy, you can follow it as one of your study habits.

11. Create online forums to prepare for the exam:

Another way to learn to study using new technologies would be through the virtual campuses of the institutions or web spaces such as Blogger (from Google) or Facebook. The student can create forums to propose different questions about the subject that will give the exam and propitiate that the rest of the students participate to provide the best answer.


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Study Techniques According to Harvard

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