::: Physics & Maths Tuition                            Frank S Roberts :::
DISCOVERY, heading for the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, 2008 | Image: NASA
Kerosene table lamp

Save on the midnight oil: don't leave study till the last moment!

Buddhist monk and cats on book

Cats invariably thwart study plans

Einstein's advice

Take note of Einstein's advice

Learning Skills

Study time-span
When you're studying, learning begins fairly slowly at first, as you settle into the subject. Then, as your concentration develops, it becomes quicker until a stage is reached where the information you have picked up in the session reaches a plateau and learning significantly slows down as you lose concentration. If you have been working hard for two or three hours then it’s probably time you had a proper break of at least half-an-hour doing something different.

Active learning
Merely reading through books or notes in passive mode is not the ideal way to learn or revise. Memory is spread out everywhere in your brain: we have visual, audio, verbal, and muscle memories. The more of your brain you can engage in the revision, the more you will remember. So while studying, write down key points, draw a diagram, ask a question, make a point - anything useful that prevents the information bypassing your brain. Make up poems and mnemonics. Summarise the notes.

Effective revision
Repeated revision compensates for our disappointingly rapid rate of forgetting what we have learned. If we go over our lesson within an hour of completing it, then again a day later, then a week after that and so on, we make sure that the information becomes entrenched in our memories.

Past papers
Anyone who doesn’t work through a lot of past papers has little chance of doing well in an exam. Once you've got your hand in a bit, remember to do the papers against the clock.