• Ian Gibbs

Student Tip 5: The Sooner, The Better


If you pick up a soaking-wet towel, the water drains off it quickly. But then after a while, the draining water slows to a steady drip, drip, drip until the rest of the moisture in the towel dries by evaporation.

 

Your memory works in a similar way. Immediately after a lesson, the amount of stuff you want to remember from that lesson quickly starts draining away. The longer you leave it, what little information you can still remember continues to disappear until you can hardly remember anything at all.

 

What this means is if you want to be as efficient as possible, if you want to learn the maximum amount with minimum effort, you have to act as quickly as you can after a lesson.

 

This is a dilemma.


On the one hand, you want to get out of class and start getting on with something more interesting as soon as possible.


But on the other hand, if you want to spend the least time and effort remembering the stuff you need to do your homework, you must strike while the iron is hot. You need to do it while it’s still fresh in your mind.

 

One way to achieve this is to jot down a few of the key ideas from the lesson to outline your assigned task as soon as you can.

 

For example, at the end of the lesson, your teacher explains the homework while everyone is stuffing their bags and trying to get out the door all at the same time. If you take just thirty seconds to write down the main points from the lesson and sketch out what ideas you have for doing your assignment, when the times comes to do your homework, you’ll find these notes a useful reminder and a huge help.

 

So set down key ideas or underline the most important points which you’ll need to include right at the end of class.

 

Similarly, it’s much better to do homework sooner than later.

 

Let’s admit it. It’s tempting to do homework as late as possible, the night before (or even the same morning) it has to be handed in.

 

By doing it as late as possible, you’re making sure you’ve forgotten as much as possible. This means you have to waste time and effort trying to remember stuff you would’ve been able to remember a week earlier.

 

So if you know you’re going to have to do your homework anyway, why not do it on the same day it was set. You’ll do it quicker, better and get a higher grade for less effort.


Wouldn’t that be great?

 

And how would you feel going the whole week knowing your homework was already done (and done well) while everyone else was struggling and stressing themselves trying to remember what it was they were supposed to have learnt?

 

It would just be another sign that you’re the one who knows how to learn stuff better.

 

 

Tip 5: Don’t leave things till the last minute. Take a moment to jot down instructions and key ideas for doing homework immediately after class and then do the homework the same day.

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