SPACED PRACTICE

 

Take advantage of “the serial position effect,” a basic law of psychology that says that we tend to remember the most about either the beginning or the end of an event, experience, a list or a lecture.   What this really means is: if you want to remember any experience, keep the middle as short as possible!  Long study sessions usually do not pay off, not only because of the serial position effect, but also because they result in fatigue, boredom and distaste for the material being studied.  You develop an “I can’t wait for this to be over” attitude while studying, and a reluctance to begin studying the next time.

 

Using “spaced practice” simply means to study for shorter periods of time more often, rather than longer periods of time once in a great while. This is the reason that I have recommended that you keep your study space ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Maybe you have 15 minutes to study after you put the laundry in, or a half hour in between TV programs you want to watch.  While clearing the dinner table you suddenly wonder about a detail one of your instructor’s mentioned in class, so you quickly go to your study space and look it up online or in your textbook; or you have been wondering what to do for a semester project in one of your classes, and something you see in a TV show gives you a flash of inspiration, so you go immediately to your study space and jot down the idea.