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February 1, 2021

Improved Study Skills for 2021


As presented earlier, getting A’s in class is more of a technique issue than an intelligence issue. There are numerous techniques, skills and habits that top students use every day that ‘B’ students are unaware of.


  1. The Feynman Technique
  2. Color – Coded Notes
  3. Mind Mapping
  4. Light Exercise
  5. Review Notes before Sleep
  6. Cornell Notes
  7. Corson Technique
  8. Pomodoro Technique


  • Feynman Technique


  • Fundamentally, if you cannot easily explain a difficult concept to a beginner, then you do not know the topic well enough.
  • Step 1: Write the name of the concept at the top of a blank piece of paper.
  • Step 2: Write down an explanation of the concept on the page. Use plain English. Teach the concept to a friend. Do they understand and do you feel confident in your explanation?
  • Step 3: If not, review what you don’t know. Go back to the source material and review. Then Repeat Step 2.
  • Step 4: Simplify your language as if speaking to a child, and where possible use a simple analogy.


  • Color-Coded Notes
    • An NIH study showed that color-coding has a positive effect on learning. In particular, warm colors such as red and yellow create a positive and motivating environment to studying. You might consider writing key points in red, and highlighting important information in yellow. Don’t color everything, however.


  • Mind Mapping
  • This method is related to the way the brain actually works storing and retrieving information. On a blank piece of paper, write your central idea, Then brainstorm by writing words and phrases associated with the central theme. Next circle and organize the associations by drawing lies to create relationships. Lastly, create headings and subheadings or branches and sub-branches from the central idea. Use different colors for each branch.


  • Light Exercise
    • While a recent study shows that exercise is not associated with higher grades, exercise is linked with increased energy levels and less fatigue.


  • Review Notes before Sleep
    • An interesting revelation was discovered in that reviewing notes before bedtime or contemplating unsolved problems before sleep increases memory and learning the following day. This is according to Scott Cairney of the University of York in the United Kingdom.


  • Cornell Notes
    • Effective note-taking method for improving organization, memory and understanding concept. Please ‘Google it.’


  • Corson Technique
    • Do not go to a professor or tutor with the phrase “I totally do not understand this problem.” The Corson Techniques advocates showing your professor or tutor what you understand, and then exactly where you get confused.
  • Pomodoro Technique
    • This proven time management tool works within Time blocking, improves productivity, enhances focus, motivation and attentiveness.
    • The Method: Focus 25 minutes attentively without distractions on a single task; then take a 5-minute break. Repeat this pattern four times, then take a well-deserved 20-30 minute break. Turn off the cell phone and instant messaging during study, and deal with interruptions by writing a brief note and promptly getting back to study. This method allows you to focus for an uninterrupted time interval, then take a break before you start to fatigue.
    • The benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is that it provides study intense periods that allow you to be effective in regards to focus and concentration without getting tired. Studying fatigued is similar studying with ADHD or being intoxicated.

The Final Big Idea

  • Studying straight for three to six-hours without a break, cramming or studying late into the night is not how optimal learning works and memory retention is improved.
  • The study techniques above are scientifically proven to assist you learn easier and retain knowledge longer.

Need help applying to college? Contact Ivy Bound at mrichardson@ivybound.com or text Dr. Richardson at 609.608.6258.