How to

How to study for Exams – An Evidence-Based Masterclass (Part 1)

Rachael Dickson Written by Rachael Dickson · 1 min read >

(This is my understanding from a course I took a few months back)

There are three steps of effective studying (Understand, Remember, Focus)

A. Understanding Anything (Technique by Feynman)
– Be able to understand something and explain it to anyone. Whenever you learn a topic; ask yourself.
i. Does this make sense?
ii. Could I explain it to a 5-year-old? (Or someone else)

N.B: Understanding is the most important step when studying

General tips for using Feynman technique
– Keep the language simple.
– For complex courses, drill down to the essence, how can I summarize the answer to this question with as few and simple words as possible?


Active Recall
Test yourself. It is the most important and fundamental way of understanding and remembering anything. Recommended book (Make it stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry I. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel)

How to learn new content with Active recall
Think of testing as part of the learning process. For example, If I read a chapter of a book, look away or close the book and try to remember what I just read (writing or summarizing it in a book is a passive recall and most of the time a waste of time)


Taking Notes During Class
Handwriting notes is better than Digital typing because it helps us think effectively. (Digital typing is like a passive habit). You get to note down or prioritize the important facts or points, you learn from the teacher or video you are watching.

The Cornell Note-taking system
On one side of your note or tab, you have the notes you have taken down, on the other side, you have a series of questions that you ask yourself concerning the points you have taken. You have asked questions with your notes being the answers to them.
(Get Notion to use and study later with it)

Mind Map
Use diagrams to remember what you have gotten from the lecture.

Taking Notes After Class
Reasons for this;
i. To build my active recall
ii. To consolidate my understanding of the questions.

2 Reasons why we take notes after class
– To understand the topic, in case we don’t get everything the lecturer is saying, get points from other places like google and other websites.
– And to ensure we have written active recall questions for ourselves.


Scoping the subject
In other to understand something, we need to understand where that something fits into the bigger picture. Scoping the subject is most effective when we do it at the beginning of a study session or when we are learning something new. It is simply asking yourself how much you know about a subject before diving in.

Scoping the subject has many forms;
– One method is Mind Maps which was previously mentioned below in the Taking Notes section.
– Another one is to skim through the chapters of a Note Case or Textbook and note down any recurring words, phrases, or topics that you are not familiar with. These little holes of the unknown are going to be landmarks, so to speak, that our minds will be on the lookout for when we actually learn the material. Without an aim, it is extremely difficult to know what to pay attention to.

To be Continued…

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