You will want these foundational skills to be your ‘go to’ learning success blueprint because they align with how your brain learns best so you can learn more and study less.
Remember, schools do a great job at telling students what to learn, but don’t have classes on ‘how to learn, so this article will bridge that gap. It will allow you to learn more in far less time.
How to Do Better in School – Top 5 Brain-Backed Strategies
# 1. Know how you learn best
Each person tends to absorb information through more than one modality, but they do have a preference for one over the other.
Some people are more visual and think in pictures, some like to listen and are more auditory, and some like to be more kinesthetic and interaction with what they learn.
If you want to find out how you prefer to learn best, go here and take the FREE Learning Styles Quiz.
Schools tend to cater to students who are more visual and think in pictures. Here’s why.
The reason knowing how you learn best is so critical, is because schools (and most businesses), tend to cater and value those who have a high visual learning style.
Visual learners tend to think in pictures, and as a consequence, have specific traits that schools value more than others.
For example, visual learners are neater and more organized. And because of how the way they study and recall what they learn, they tend to do better on written tests.
When taking written tests, visual learners recall the information in images, which neuroscience says is hundreds of times faster than recalling words or how you “feel” about the information.
Thus, if you look into any individual classroom, teachers will tell you, that visual learners, by far, tend to get higher grades.
That’s why two students, doing the exact same work and study all the assigned work together, will perform differently on tests.
It is not that visual learners are any smarter, but they happen to naturally have a learning style that matches the environment they are in, especially when taking a written exam.
The visual learning modality and thinking in pictures makes studying in pictures and recalling in images faster and more effective than not using that style on a written exam.
So that leads into the next tip, what to do if you are not a visual learner and you want to do better in school.
First, you need to respect and honor the learning modality you already prefer. Use it whenever possible. If you love music, honor that and develop it. If you love to move your body, honor that by playing sports, and in any area where lots of movement is valued.
# 2. Match Learning Style to Testing Style
In school, the way you show what you know is mostly on written tests, right? So if that isn’t going to change in the near future, you want to consider adding something to your toolbox of learning techniques so you can do better in school.
Think about this tip like this: does a baseball coach give a person trying out, a written test?
Nope. They want to see how well they hit, throw and catch a ball. The coach wants to see what you know in a way that matches what you are expected to do – play baseball.
It would be a mis-match to give a written test to see what kind of baseball player you are.
But in school, as I already mentioned, the way they measure what you know is on a written exam.
College entrance exams tend to be in writing too, and many careers require you to take written tests.
Heck, you even have to take a written test to get a driver’s license and keep it over the years.
Your winning strategy is to have a skill that allows you to do well on written tests
The big tip is to match the way you learn and remember with how you will be assessed, and usually you are tested in writing.
Since visual learners tend to do the best on written tests only because they think in pictures, what would happen if you added that strategy to the learning style you already have?
Here’s how. It’s called T.I.M.
# 3. Turn Everything You Read into Mental Movies to Make Memory Easier
The research on recalling movies is more than conclusive.
It’s far faster and more efficient to remember information in images during a written test.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
If you play baseball or any sport, you embed your memory of how to do something into your body and muscles.
But if you want to do better in school on those pesky written tests, T.I.M. – turn into movies.
Literally, when you study and when you recall during the test, recall your movie.
You know how you can get to the bottom of a page when you read and forget what you just read?
But what happens when you go to the movies? You can come home and tell everyone the entire movie. How the characters looked, what they wore, what they said plus the entire sequence of the movie.
Why are movies easier than reading? Because they are in images that cover a larger surface area of your brain and more easily go into long term memory than words do.
“Landmark studies in the 1970s demonstrated that after viewing 10,000 scenes for a few seconds each, people could determine which of two images had been seen with 83% accuracy (4). This level of performance indicates the existence of a large storage capacity for images, according to the PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14325
In fact there are thousands of studies on images and how much faster and easier they are to recall.
So just think of turning what you hear and read into mental images – T.I.M. – turn into movies.
It’s just the same way a baseball play strengthens their throwing arm, or their running to be a better player.
If you want to do better in school, remember T.I.M. – turn everything into movies and you’ll remember it easier during the test.
# 4. Take Notes the Way Brain Research Says You Will Remember Them Best
You know how old-fashioned notes are just linear? You write down words as you hear them?
After what I just proved to you about images, do you think that brain research supports linear notes as the easiest to remember.
So how about making your life easier by taking notes a new way – one that gives you the best shot at remembering them later during the written test?
That way is call Mind Maps.
A professor named Tony Buzan proved that his students who used mind maps when taking notes got higher grades on written tests.
In fact, you’ll do better in school using this technique.
Here is why is works so well.
Each idea is connected to the main idea – and each idea is related to each other and this is precisely how your brain works.
Say you won a sports game at school. When you recall that, it brings up lots of other memories and they are all connected, just like the neurons and dendrites in your brain.
Here is what a mind map looks like:
The main idea goes into the middle circle.
Then you can connect images and text in spokes going out from the middle circle and they all relate to one another.
These are the sub-sections in your text book.
See how you can go through your textbook and put the main idea in the middle, then put spokes coming out form it and connecting the others image and text reminders to each other?
This is precisely how your brain works. Each idea is connected to another idea.
Mind maps cement your memory and not only will you do better in school you’ll get higher grades using this technique along with the others here.
# 5. Learn How to Learn and Train Your Memory
Knowing how to learn is like having a magic genie with you all the time.
Whenever you want to learn something, whether it be for school, in sports, in your job or just for entertainment, you will have the blueprint and know how to learn anything.
Knowing how to learn is brain science in action and it’s fun.
The biggest part of learning is understanding that pictures and associations are at the heart of it.
Part of learning how to learn is understanding that there is no such thing as a bad memory.
There is only a trained and untrained memory and there are several memory skills that you need in order to do better in school and improve your recall.
Add memory strategies such as the 2,000 year old memory champion strategy and the Body Peg strategy I talk about in my courses, and not only will you motivate yourself on demand, you can master and remember anything you choose.
The good news is that, when you use these ‘how to do better in school’ strategies, you’ll be confident, before you even start, that you will succeed.
If you’d like to “win the school” game and get all the strategies you need to raise your grades in less than a month, check out the Total Recall Learning 10 day course here or contact Pat about her How to Do Better in School in 21 Days coaching program.
Pat Wyman is the founder of HowtoLearn.com, HowtoLearn.Teachable.com, best selling author and an internationally noted brain and learning coach.
Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, including Total Recall Learning™.
She is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!
Contact Pat about her coaching program on How to Do Better in School in 21 Days.