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Bad habits can be good for GRE Prep

Bad habits can be good for GRE Prep

By / Feb 13, 2019

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Science writer Benedict Carey encapsulates years of research on the learning process in a book “How We Learn”. The findings are shocking and at times unsettling. For years the learning habits that you were convinced to be good or may be your teachers or mentors told you that those habits were good, turn out to be shallow and inconsequential as far as GRE is concerned.

Now you may say that you have been following the same learning methods for years and they have been
delivering results. Now buddies, understand that GRE is not similar to any other academic test that you had taken in your years of study. Those tests expected you to “recite knowledge”. So what you did was simply attend lectures, make notes, memorize them furiously in the week before the exams and recite that newly acquired information in the exam and lo you “SUCEED”.

GRE is an entirely different ball game. It expects you to apply knowledge in real life problems. So taking notes and cramming concepts are not going to take you far.

Shun your old school habits of learning and acquire some new habits, if you are serious about your GRE success.

Get distracted

Carey notes that “each alteration of the routine further enriches the skills being rehearsed, making them sharper and more accessible for a longer period of time.”

So altering your learning environment, introducing some music or even studying in a coffee shop can help you build and develop various associations of what you learn. Such associations enhance and enrich learning which can be applied in real life situations.

Same comfortable room, with ample light, quiet surroundings and staying away from distractions like TV, FB, Whatsapp etc. keep you focused and help maintain concentration and this leads to better learning is nothing more than farce. This only helps in superficial assimilation of information, which is quite different from learning.

Less……… but more often is GOOD

Long study sessions are not good for retention. Don’t try to learn a concept in one long sitting. If you want to hold on to what you learn, you must space your study schedules in short frequent sessions. This is what learning scientists call “spacing effect”.

For instance, if you plan to study percentages for 3 hours, then it would be a good idea to spend 1 hour on Monday, one on Wednesday and one on Friday.

This helps in retaining the concepts you learn and also gives you time to make associations of what you learn with real life scenarios. Such kind of associations and applications help you to think about concepts in various environments and helps you enjoy the concepts rather than making it tedium.

Who says mix up is bad?
As the sage saying goes “Stay organized and see it through completion”, even here, I take the risk of differing with it for the common good of all the GRE aspirants.

By throwing your brain some curve balls, you will actually train your brain to make strategic choices. This is a must while taking GRE.

If you keep solving equations until you have mastered each and every equation type, you develop some momentum and in that flow, you will conquer almost all the problems, but you are not training your brain to unsettle. The moment something unsettles you, you may see that you are not able to solve the equation problems as well.

So, good idea is to mix up your quizzes with questions from various topics. With this you train your mind to make strategic choices, which is what you will be expected to do on the GRE.

Learning through testing

The conservative school of thought believes that you must complete a concept thoroughly before you start with testing. I dare to differ.

I believe, your learning starts with testing. The moment you take a test before learning a concept, your mind will automatically flag those concepts where you struggle or even fail. So your mental mechanism is now conditioned to pay more attention on those concepts where you faltered and may be you can simply glance through those areas where you breezed through.

Sleep vs. Swot
You have to make a choice. The BIG day is drawing closer. You have just 1 week left for the BIG Day. What will you do…… Steal a peaceful night’s sleep or rapaciously lap up those extra hours for cramming some new words or concepts?

I would suggest the same what your mom would suggest you – Get some rest.

Exhaustion is very bad for performance.

As Carey reminds us, “brain scientists have published an array of findings suggesting that sleep plays a critical role in flagging and storing important memories, intellectual and physical.”

So, please do not rob yourself of those necessary hours of sleep which could be decisive enough for a good score.

Good luck with these “BAD HABITS”.

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Last updated on : Aug 25, 2019