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Effective Learning Skills and Techniques

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Sofs (Sophie) is a mental health professional. She writes articles on learning and academic excellence. These were written to help her son.

Effective Learning Skills

Are good grades important to you? I am sure it is, because it is the desire of every student, but sadly not many are successful in this endeavor. Students spend a lot of time reading up books and wading through a bunch of material and at the end of which some feel utterly lost, wondering if any of this effort would lead them to their goals. This article attempts to outline a few techniques which enables learning effective and helps retain what is learnt. Effective learning starts with the desire to excel. You need to be motivated to do what you set out to do.


Get More out of Your Study Time

Preparation for studying is as important as the act of studying itself.

  • Make your study time free of external disturbance. Make sure you have shut off all gadgets that could disturb you. Your phones, music, TV etc.
  • Mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to be ready to concentrate for the time you have set out as your study time. Speaking to yourself about how you will concentrate helps.
  • Plan what you want to study and give yourself sufficient time for job at hand. You need to be realistic about how much you can study in the given time frame. If you try to do more than realistically possible it might work to your detriment.

Different Learning Styles

Each individual is used to a particular style of learning and generally adheres to one method of learning with which he/she is comfortable. This makes learning the process very limited. Effective learning should combine a few styles of learning in order to make the process well rounded. To study effectively all the senses need to be employed, so that concentration is optimal and what has been learned is retained in the long term memory.

There are different learning styles but to keep matters simple I will outline the most widely used methods (terms used are not technical in nature) and how they help.

Visual learning style involves the use of images, pictures, graphs, diagrams and models to assimilate information. What you see is understood and learned. The eyes become the major sensory organ involved in the learning process.

Auditory learning style Here, the learners listen to spoken messages, classroom teaching, music or sounds to assimilate information. The auditory or the listening skill of the individual is employed for learning to take place.

Logical learning style This is a process of derivation of information through logical or mathematical reasoning. This is a very systematic method which depends on logic, reasoning and is a highly individualized process.

Individual learning is where student learns by himself, this includes e-learning.

Group learning where discussion and exchange and become the main basis of learning. Interaction with peers and lively discussions become the central activity.

Sensory learning is where practical handling and manipulation of material causes learning to take place.

Holistic learning is a type of learning where a person gets the idea of the bigger picture and proceeds to fill in the details.


How to make Learning Effective

Effective learning happens when an individual employs one or more of the above mentioned these styles of learning simultaneously. Only visual or auditory learning by themselves are not effective. Employing sensory learning with auditory or visual learning could help retain what has been learnt for a longer time. However, when what is learned is tested or put into practice it is remembered for a longer period of time.In other words your short term memory has been converted to long term memory. When information is processed and stored in long term memory, effective learning has occurred and what has been learned can be used for many years to come.

Combining a method of learning that is dependent on hearing or seeing, with practical application makes the learning effective. In short you hear, see and you do. Derivation method of learning works well when combined with holistic method. Adopting two or more styles of learning helps you effectively harness your potential for learning. Even though you have your own style of learning, it is better to combine two or more styles of learning to complement and supplement your favored method, this enables you to concentrate better and learn well.


Techniques for Better Memory

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Acronyms: Using acronyms or one letter for each word of the text that you want to remember. For example, we widely use the acronym VIBGYOR to remember the different colours of the rainbow.

Acrostic: Acrostic is an invented sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue to the word you need to remember. For example, in music notation, to remember the notes for the spaces between the lines, we use the acrostic “All Cows Eat Grass” to remember the notes, A, C, E and G.

Rhyming Words: This is employing rhyming words to remember the set of words that you need to remember. For example, to remember a set of domestic animals like a cat, dog and a cow, we use the rhyme, “Pat the cat, Mog the dog and Wow the cow, lived together with Mr Louse in the house.”

Image technique: For remembering names of people, it would be easier to associate physical characteristics with names. For example, if you want to remember a name like Lionel Messi, think of lions messing around with a football. When you have converted this idea into this image and stored it in your memory, there is no way you could forget this player’s name or the game that he is associated with. (not that Messi is hard to remember, this is just to demonstrate what I am saying)

Linking Technique: To remember a set of terms like erosion, deforestation and urbanisation, we could chain each term meaningfully to the other so that the link makes remembering the items and the order in which they need to be remembered easy, “Soil eroded by the river made the roots come up and the trees fell down providing the timber for buildings.”

Using imagery. A picture speaks a thousand words. Whatever you learn, make mental images of them as you go on, and replay them in your mind. Graphic details stay much longer in your memory. Make them a little comical and there you are learning and having fun too.

Alphabetical lists When you have to remember a set of items, try to remember them in the alphabetical order. As you keep converting them into alphabetical sequence, you will not forget anything when you go through the alphabets to reproduce them from your memory.

Fill in the blanks We have all used this technique quite extensively when we were younger and in smaller classes. This is a very effective method of learning and retaining facts or information in your memory. For example, when you want to remember names or facts, then use a blank. For example, the first president of America is George ­­­­_________. When you block some keywords from the information which you need to remember and repeat the learning a few times, these words are very easily etched in your memory.

Result Oriented Learning

  • Practice effective reading skills. Effective reading helps you to read through the material, with understanding, purpose, application and helps make you study time highly productive. With good reading skills enable you can venture beyond your text books and widen your knowledge base while making good grades in your exams.
  • Learn with understanding. Use a dictionary to find the meanings of words that you do not understand or find explanation for terms that you need to understand before you start learning. It is very important to know what you are learning otherwise, you just commit things to memory like a parrot and this could be so garbled when you need to reproduce it making little or no sense.
  • Logic before you memorize. Understanding how things work, putting facts together sequentially and building facts one on the other to make sense out of them causes learning to be effective. Once you have done this, it is easier to memorize and it takes very little time. What is memorized with understanding and a fair amount of learning is retained in the long term memory.
  • Memorizing is often done by repetition. Things that are constantly repeated are memorized well, but facts that are understood, learnt and memorized converts what you have learned into super memory
  • Repeating the basics often and spending time memorizing basics will never be wasted. You will have your foundation strong and there is no way that you are going to forget this information in a long time to come. Frequent revisions are highly recommended.
  • Put into practice what you have learned. Try to apply it in practical ways.
  • Teaching others what you have learned will make what you have learned more meaningful and easy to remember.
  • Eat healthy foods. Remember that you can feed your brain and power it to maximum potential. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day.
  • Do not disrupt your sleep patterns, especially during exams. Get sufficient sleep, your brain needs rest to function well.
  • Do your best and stop worrying, worry only causes you to forget what you have learned. Relax, when you are tense go out and play a game or get some physical activity so your mind is free from worrying and stress.
  • Believe in yourself. Be positive.

Study Smart

Employing these learning techniques will help you commit information from short term memory to long term memory. Too much cramming leads to information overload and inability to reproduce what is learnt from memory accurately.

A good study habit, methodical, planned studying, dedicated study hours and committed effort from the side of the individual are at the core of effective learning. Active listening at college /school and good note taking increases your ability to learning effective. Remember that studying has to be a regular activity in your everyday schedule if you want to learn effectively and put the knowledge that you have accumulated to greater use in your career.

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Vishal Mody from Toronto on March 01, 2015:

Great hub, great tips - I also tell my students to try to teach the concepts they learn to their peers!

Nashi on January 09, 2015:

Excellent work, I can testify that the techniques work. One just need to be consistent in applying them. Iwill certainly share it with my kids and friends whose kids are studying. Thumbs up.

Sophie (author) on March 31, 2012:

Bg, Thank you for stopping by to say that. Have a great day.

bg on March 31, 2012:

that was awesome

Sophie (author) on February 18, 2012:

Thank you for that vote of confidence.. I truly appreciate that.. Have a lovely weekend. God Bless!

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on February 18, 2012:

Looking forward to the next hub...

Sophie (author) on February 18, 2012:

Anndavis, I mainly work with teens and college grads.. I am not sure if I could give you some tips on teaching a fourth grader.. I was researching something similar over the last few days for my younger son around the same age and came up with some interesting stuff. If you could give me a few days to work on this I would be writing a hub on the subject.. I am so sorry that I cannot give you advice off hand. I do appreciate the question and thanks for the follow and the comment! Have a wonderful weekend. God Bless!

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on February 17, 2012:

Sofs, I have a grandchild who is average in everything but math. He is a little behind in the 4th grade, and it is causing him to lose motivation. I'm worried. Wish I could help him. Any advice?

Your hub inspiring!

Sophie (author) on February 09, 2012:

Delight D Vapor Thank you for talking the time to let me know that this has been helpful to you. I appreciate this very much! Have a great day!

Delight D. Vapor on February 09, 2012:

Wow!!! it's awesome... I really like these information. I have learn a lot of things regarding all the techniques and skills.

Sophie (author) on December 12, 2011:

Dr Vineet..thank you sir, for your kind words :) I appreciate this very much !!

dr vineet. on December 12, 2011:

Thanx.its very helpful..

Sophie (author) on November 24, 2011:

Thank you teaches12345 for endorsing the hub... This series of hubs as written for my son and his friends..and I am happy to say that it did help them. Hope this does help other students as well.. thank you and God Bless!

Dianna Mendez on November 24, 2011:

This is very helpful info for college students. As an instructor I find freshman students need a refresher course or tips on how to study. Your writing on different learning styles is very important in knowing how to best approach reading and preparing for classwork.

Sophie (author) on July 23, 2011:

Check your mail .. I have left some instructions there. have a great day .. and i hope you will enjoy writing here on HP :)

azicornel on July 21, 2011:

ok thanks alot. Pls I am new to HP, what are the pre-requisit involved in writing an article like this. Can i write with my phone or must I use system. Pls guide me..

Sophie (author) on July 21, 2011:

Great question there azicornel , I wrote this hub to highlight learning techniques that help you learn. My focus is not on cramming for exams but learning to retain and put to use what you study. The question from the past could serve as a great way to revise what you have learnt but not as a study method. If you use this as a study method your studying will only be geared towards getting marks and not acquiring knowledge . Thank you for the read and comment. Welcome to HP :)

azicornel on July 20, 2011:

This is wonderful. I am a medical student. I use the rhyme and the acostic often. I am usually tensed during exam but I have learnt to relax for about 5 minutes before starting any exam. Thanks but you did not made mention of past questions or is it off your subject matter?

Sophie (author) on June 03, 2011:

Almu007 thanks for the read and the comment. Hope it is helpful. Much appreciated :)

almu007 from Vermont, US on June 03, 2011:

Fantastic Hub. Very well structured information. I am a visual learner for sure, so thanks for the images.

Sophie (author) on March 28, 2011:

It is such a pleasure to meet you again, Days Leaper. These techniques mentioned here are just a few common ones. My son and some kids whom I have had the opportunity to teach use them pretty effectively. My best wishes to you to continue your studies and be the best at it. There are no if's for those who believe. God Bless :)

days leaper from england on March 27, 2011:

What a lot of techniques to aid learning. I didn't realise there are so many.

When I was a student. I did a bit of brainstorming, then looked through books to find what I needed. Needless to say I didn't get great grades. I'll have this source of information now if/when I get round to continuing my study.


Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Hi Bro thanks for the support, I appreciate this. Yeah these learning techniques work for my kids alright. 'Keep working further a lot more to be said' comment is the inspiration I need. Leo thanks a ton, love you and God Bless!

Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Hi there Smriti, what an endorsement from my niece!! Now this is the most inspiring comment as it is from a student. Thanks sweetheart for the encouragement, I love ya and God Bless!!

leo on March 14, 2011:

Hi sophie, great work . hope it works right with u kids keep u self walking further for there is lot more to be said.

Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Gangadhar, I do appreciate the read and the encouraging comment. These comments and support inspire me to do more. Thank you and God bless you.

Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Mini, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really hope that this article is of use to your kids. I really do appreciate the effort and encouragement. God Bless!

Smriti on March 14, 2011:

It is a very useful and motivating article for all especially the "student community ".. You've put forth the different dimensions of effective learning and me being a student find it very helpful for my day to day learning n application .. Good work aunty !!

gangadhar on March 14, 2011:

Hi sofs,Awesome, amaging tips. i really apriciate your effort to give lots tips like. thnks and god bless you.

mini on March 14, 2011:

Very good article will be useful to my children too.

Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Hi Audrey thank you for the encouragement, I do appreciate all the effort. Thank you and God bless!

audrey on March 14, 2011:

We need more people like you to write such articles with superb techniques. All the best.

Sophie (author) on March 14, 2011:

Rekha, thank you. I really do appreciate it , hope this help your daughter. God bless!

rekha on March 14, 2011:

Awesome!! You have brought out a thoroughly researched and useful article. Some more for students, please..

Sophie (author) on March 12, 2011:

Ankit, thanks for the thumbs up, I hope you will use them and reap rich benefits from your study time. Thanks and Wish you success in your endeavors.

ankit on March 12, 2011:

thank u sofs this is really of use

its not i din knw abt any of the techniqes but i din use them as well thank u so very much for this .

thumbs up !!

Sophie (author) on March 12, 2011:

Thank you Christolite, hope it was useful to you. You visits and you comment is much appreciated.

Emma from Houston TX on March 12, 2011:

Nice article,thanks

Sophie (author) on March 09, 2011:

Thanks Cagsil, for educating yourself the second time :) and for all the support, I really need it. You are so kind and I honestly appreciate the thumbs up and all the effort. Thank you once again. :)

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on March 09, 2011:

Hey Sofs, this is the second time I was here. The first time I came by I didn't leave a comment, so I left one this time. Great article and I certainly hope you win the Top of the Class Contest! :) Thumbs Up! Voted for your hub, voted it up here and you know the rest. :) :D

Sophie (author) on March 08, 2011:

Thanks Beaula, for the encouragement. I am sure that as a teacher your words are backed with authority. Yeah, the objective is to be able to make use of that knowledge base that you acquire, with understanding. I appreciate the read and the comment. God Bless!

Beaula on March 08, 2011:

The prime objective in learning is to retain and apply knowledge that we acquire. Your article gives good guidance to reach the benefits of our learning process. Good. Good article. Keep continuing.

Sophie (author) on March 08, 2011:

Hi Rovena, thanks for the read and the comment, I hope your son will benefit from these tips, yeah you could use them too. I do appreciate the support Rovena, God bless!

rovena on March 08, 2011:

Your article was a good reminder for. my son andalsofor me.thks sophie,great study tips.

Sophie (author) on March 08, 2011:

Hi Doc, thanks for the support dear, no wonder you make a great doctor, you have got your basics right. Yeah, that is what this article is all about, to make you do something that you do, with understanding.

I also used some of these techniques without understanding thereby making them ineffective. Glad that you will be passing this knowledge on to your juniors,I really do appreciate the effort. God bless!

drannie john on March 08, 2011:

most of the techniques u ve listed were followed by me during my college days......i never realised it as a learning technique........great job enlisting these and helping me to refresh my memory.would pass this to my friends and juniors as well..........thanks a lot

Sophie (author) on March 08, 2011:

Wow! that is a wonderful sharing from a mother, I do hope that Kevin finds this helpful as my son Kevin did. I am sure that as these students are preparing for their exams, these techniques will come in handy. I do appreciate the read and the comment. Good Bless you Ida and best wishes to Kevin!!

Ida Gnanaraj on March 08, 2011:

HiSophie, this article is rightly timed.I asked my son who is sitting for his IGCSE read it and he found it helpful. I love the paragraph on image technique. Most often children are confused when the information they try to study and fail to recollect them at the time of exam. I will recommond it to all my kids friends. thanks sophie

Sophie (author) on March 08, 2011:

Thank you Pratima, I am sure that nothing has changed about our memory and the way we memorize things, old but effective techniques.Glad to have you visit and comment, I appreciate the effort.

aloysius on March 07, 2011:

Magnificent piece of compilation of learning techniques useful for everyone especially for students. Keep it up!

pdsa on March 07, 2011:

superb! I have used some of these techniques during my college days like acronyms, rhyming words, fill in the blanks thanks for reminding and i have learnt lot more thro this article. it is a very useful article for all of us and children esp youths. very practical well done Sophie.

Sophie (author) on March 07, 2011:

Thanks Collen, Hope it helps Nicole... actually this is a series of articles that I have written for students.. get Nikky to read the other one that will also be of use to her... the article on brain foods will help you get her sharp by providing the right nutrition... check it out...and give me a like on face book. Appreciate the read and the comment and God Bless!

Colleen on March 07, 2011:

Dear Sophie,

This article comes at an appropriate time when our kids are studying for there exams starting this week itself! Nikki printed the article for her reference. Keep up the good work. You are blessed!

Sophie (author) on March 07, 2011:

Wow Marty Thanks for the quick work, I always use these techinues to remember Bibles references for eg dial your dad on Jer 333 and he will answer you...look up the scripture and you will never confuse the numbers again...

Thanks for the vote and the comment. God Bless ya! I appreciate this !!

Martin Rebeiro on March 07, 2011:

Dear Sophie,

Very good and useful piece of information. Practical and implementable. I will practice while studying the Word of God and will pass this info on to my kids, also to others..

God bless,


Sophie (author) on March 07, 2011:

Hi Laurel,ha I am with you in this... I wish that I had understood the value of these learning techniques when I was much younger, but nothing is lost, I still use them and teach them to my children and their friends.

Thank you for reading and commenting on this hub.I do appreciate this.

Sophie (author) on March 07, 2011:

Hi Denise, thank you so much for the read and the comment. I am currently working with my son who is graduating this year from school and he has put everyone of these techniques to great use. I am sure they are as good as they were when we used them. I appreciate the support and God Bless!

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on March 07, 2011:

Learning how to study is such an important part of education, I wish I'd had when I was in school. But, as an adult, I find some of these techniques invaluable.

Thanks for such an exhaustive and great job!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on March 07, 2011:

Hi Sofs, great job listing some very effective study tools. I also recall using many of these during my nursing school years. I voted it up.

Sophie (author) on March 04, 2011:

Thank you Jon Ellis for stopping by and for the comment. Most of these techniques have been used by us but either we did not know the names or consciously did not know the technique we adopted. Learning with knowing makes learning easy. I do appreciate this.

jon ellis from Bristol, UK on March 04, 2011:

Really useful article on learning styles. I used acronyms when studying for my degree.

Sophie (author) on March 02, 2011:

Taleb Thanks for the read and the vote up. Glad that you found it useful. Much appreciated.

Taleb AlDris on March 02, 2011:


Thank you so much for this great Hub.

It is full of information.

I voted "Awesome" & "Up".


Sophie (author) on March 01, 2011:

Ruby, thank you for the read and the comment, I use all of these techniques and find them really effective. To remember long lists, the alphabetic check comes in very handy. The rhymes and the puns make learning more interesting. Thank you once again and God Bless!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 01, 2011:

This is really great. When i was in nurse's training, i used the alphabetical list, i still do. If i can't remember a name , i picture their face then run through the alphabet, i usually remember. Thank you for the other tools for learning.

Sophie (author) on February 28, 2011:

Hey Tim, thanks for the read and comment, yes cramming without understanding and memorizing without learning are useless. Simple but effective learning techniques, that surely help while studying.

Tim Nichol from Me to You on February 28, 2011:

Hey sofs, you're absolutely right about memorizing for its' own sake. Without understanding the facts and how they relate to real life situations, it's just useless information. Excellent advice once again, sofs.

Sophie (author) on February 28, 2011:

There is nothing new is there...? old but effective techniques. Great that you know the value of these techniques, they work the same, but these are hardly emphasized. Thanks for the read and the comment I appreciate it.

medor from Michigan, USA on February 28, 2011:

Wow... what a nice goup of learning techniques used throughout the last century into the present... thanks... well done... used these all my life.

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