Join Eddie Woo as he shares invaluable insights on how to study effectively and ace your final exams. Discover the power of teaching others as a tool to deepen your understanding and enhance your memory retention. Eddie also highlights the importance of minimizing errors by building a strong conceptual memory. Most importantly, learn why cramming is a no-go and how spacing out your learning can significantly improve your information retention. Remember, regular and steady learning strengthens your neural pathways and boosts your memory. So, start scheduling your learning and revision sessions today! It's never too late to start. Tune in and let Eddie guide you on your journey to academic success.
Hey, I'm Eddie Woo and here are my top 3 tips for studying well and doing your best in your final exams. Tip number 1, study by explaining. Everyone knows that in a subject like mathematics, it's really important to do practice, to attempt as many questions as you can, and be really comfortable and familiar with the kinds of things you're going to need to solve when you get into your final assessment tasks. However, what I would encourage in addition to just doing questions and getting the answers is to actually explain the questions and answers that you're doing.
I think it's far more valuable to attempt a smaller number of questions, but then spend the time with a peer or a family member to say, okay, I'm going to sit down with this question and I'm going to tell you why the working is what it is, and I'm going to also articulate and justify why the answer is one that makes sense. Actually going through the work of explaining forces you to understand something more deeply. In fact, it was the physicist Richard Feynman who said, you do not understand something truly until you can explain it simply.
I reckon 95% of the reason why I am any good at mathematics is because I spent so many years teaching it, and oftentimes I would think I understood something until I put myself in the position of having to communicate it to someone else. And that's when it revealed to me that actually there's deeper understanding that I didn't yet have. So when you're studying, don't just do questions, actually take some of those answers that you come up with and explain them to other people. Tip number two, work on your little errors by building your conceptual memory. One of the things that plagues every mathematics students is what we often call silly mistakes.
These are the kinds of things where you do the exam, you complete it, you finish off, and when you get the marks back, you look and you think, how did I get this wrong? I know how this question works. I had the right formula. I just did something silly like 2 times 3 equals 5 instead of 6. These silly mistakes can be really frustrating because they are places where we lose marks, where we knew we could have gotten them, and we feel very silly afterwards. Now I used to call these careless errors. These silly mistakes seemed like we just weren't paying attention when we were doing it.
But the longer I teach, the more I realize that even though sometimes it is that I was being careless in my working, there are other reasons underneath why these little errors creep into our work. And the biggest one that I come up with most frequently is what I call conceptual memory. When you learn a concept for the first time in a subject like mathematics, it will have many different sub-components and it takes up all of your effort and working memory to learn what those things are. Just as an example, the quadratic formula. Now I can say that to you really quickly even though when I first learned it, it was a lot of different ideas all together.
Think about it. X equals minus b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac divided by 2a. There you go. That's 16 separate little things that when I first learned them absolutely took all of my attention and effort to learn. But now I can say the quadratic formula, and more importantly, I can use it without even sparing a second thought. How did that happen? It's because I've taken time, many, many hours to build my memory of that concept so that now it's no longer 16 different ideas in my mind, it's just one.
Now what does this have to do with little errors? Well you can imagine if you are using a formula or an algorithm or a problem solving technique in a question and you're not yet familiar with it, that you don't have that conceptual memory that I'm talking about, that when you realize in the question that you have to use this, all of your attention will go to, say, the quadratic formula. And it's really easy for your mind to lose track of other pieces of information in the question that are relevant to solving the question.
And so what happens is your mind can't keep track of everything and before you know it, you've made an error without even realizing it because the things you needed to focus on just didn't have enough space in your working memory. So if you really want to minimize the number of little errors that happen, some of them are unavoidable and you can only fix them up by going back and checking on your work, but others of them can really be minimized if you work on building your conceptual memory. My final tip, number three, is to space out your learning.
Now a less poetic way of saying that is just to say don't cram when you're studying and revising, except we all kind of know in the back of our minds that cramming is not a very good idea and yet we do it anyway. So how can I convince you to be a little more disciplined in having a regular study program rather than leaving everything to the last minute and cramming just a few hours, days, weeks before the exam? Studies show that spacing out our learning, something called distributed practice, is really important for embedding the ideas and the skills that we're learning. And if you have a think about it, you'll understand why.
Something that we cram in at the last minute but then forget about after the exam is finished kind of signals to our brain that this is just important for a short amount of time and it doesn't really matter. So surprise, surprise, your brain doesn't actually deeply put effort into actually retaining those memories long term. However, if you think about anything that you have done regularly and steadily, that signals to your brain, hey, this is important. I do this over and over again. It must really matter because it's a regular part of your routine.
And so what this does is it enforces the neural pathways in your mind and it really sinks in those things that you're trying to remember and become good at. So space out your learning over time. Have a schedule. Make sure you set it, you know, every week or fortnight you're going to be revising exams and not just right at the very end. And this is one of the ways that you'll ensure your long term memory really sticks for the things that you've learned during class. So in summary, the most effective way to learn a lot of things is by forcing yourself to explain it to others around you.
Minimize the little errors that you have by deepening your conceptual understanding and that comes from deliberate practice. And lastly, space out your learning and revision and stick to a schedule. The best time to begin was probably two weeks ago, but the next best time after that is right now. So all the best in your studies and all your assessment tasks. Subtitles created by Skrybot. pl .