Study Myth Busters
Study Myth Busters
Study Myth Buster 13 – Naps Improve Intellectual Performance
Naps are detrimental if taken too late in the day (after 4.30pm), otherwise, they are highly beneficial to intellectual performance. Short naps should generally last around 25-30 minutes. That amount of time allows you to rest without the risk of entering into deep sleep and waking up feeling even more tired.
If you’re feeling particularly tired, take a 90 minute nap (the average person’s sleep cycle) so that your body can enter REM sleep. It is during the REM periods where the mind is replenished and memories are consolidated!
Study Myth Buster 12 – Reading Notes Out Loud will Help Me Retain Information
This myth is in fact true! Reading out loud engages a larger percentage of the brain, making it harder for the mind to wander. Furthermore, the more of the brain we use whilst learning, the faster and more effectively we commit that knowledge to memory.
Study Myth Buster 11 – Exercise Wastes Valuable Study Time
This is a myth. Exercise helps to clear and focus the mind by stimulating the release of endorphins such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. These endorphins resemble the opiates in their abilities to reduce pain and stress, and promote a feeling of calm and well being. Therefore, when you are stuck on a problem or task and/or feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a brisk walk or run around the block will definitely help!
Study Myth Buster 10 – It’s Okay to Pull ‘All Nighters’ Before Exams
Staying up all-night is the most inefficient and unhealthy way to study. Studies have shown that people who are sleep-deprived perform worse on complex cognitive tasks compared to rested participants. Staying up the night before a test or exam can backfire, as your brain commits learning to memory during sleep after acquiring new knowledge. Try to save last minute cramming for emergencies only i.e. when there is no other option. Generally, though, no matter how unprepared you are, you will be better off with a good night’s sleep than trying to work through an exam paper after not sleeping.
Study Myth Buster 9 – It is Easier to Study Under Pressure
This is a myth that many students fall for. You may think that you study or perform better under pressure, but you are just relying on adrenaline and stress to “force you” to complete your work as you don’t have the option of procrastinating when it is due the next day. Those students who leave their study to the last minute run the risk of obtaining lower marks, as the brain needs time to absorb, analyse and comprehend information if it is to process it effectively. It has also been shown that it takes longer to complete tasks under high stress levels – particularly when it comes to test and exam preparation. You will learn more if you study for 2 hours each day across 10 days than if you were to dedicate 10 hours to study across two days! So start your exam preparations as sooner rather than later!
Study Myth Buster 8 – Water Improves Concentration and Memory
This is in fact true! Even mild dehydration (<2%) which is characterised by a dry mouth and dry lips can decrease concentration and test performance by 10 to 20%. So keep well hydrated whilst learning as well as during the exams.
Study Myth Buster 7 – Studying One Subject at a Time is the Best Way to Learn
While this used to be considered true, research now shows that learning is deeper and retained longer when students move between subjects whilst they are studying. Try moving from subject to subject, spending the same amount of time on each subject that you would have spent if you were working on them one at a time. If you find that this doesn’t work for you, go back to studying one subject at a time – but do so in 30 to 50 minute blocks.
Study Myth Buster 6 – Drinking Energy Drinks Will Help Me Concentrate and Study Better
The huge amount of sugar in energy drinks (6 teaspoons in a 250ml can!) may give you a buzz and a sense of having more energy – but they actually lower your energy levels over a period of an hour or more. During an exam, which is bound to be a lot longer than 30 minutes, you run the risk of slumping once the sugar has been processed in the body. It is far more effective to eat low glycaemic energy rich foods, such as nuts and bananas, and to keep well hydrated throughout the day. Aside from exams, it is important to avoid energy drinks when you are studying. Your mind will lose focus and concentration once the effects start to wear off and you will need more and more sugar to get the same effect. So adopt a consistently healthy diet, drink lots of water, and avoid sugar and caffeine as much as possible.
Study Myth Buster 5 – You Can Learn Whilst Sleeping
We have all heard that we can learn by listening to recordings whilst sleeping. But is this myth really true?
Although it is possible to store selected memories generated during sleep by external stimuli, dreams, and hallucinations experienced while falling asleep and while waking up, it is nearly impossible to harness this process into productive learning. Learning whilst sleeping is not only a complete waste of time, it can also reduce the quality of sleep, making it more difficult to concentrate and learn during waking hours.
Study Myth Buster 4 – Doing Regular Sit-ups Will Improve Writing Speed
This myth is actually true! Not only will sit ups improve writing speed – they also improve the quality of handwriting! This technique is so effective that many occupational therapists use sit-ups and other abdominal exercises to treat handwriting issues in children with dyspraxia (coordination problems). Another great way of improving writing speed is to attach a AAA battery to your pen. As the fine muscle strength in your hand increases, systematically add additional batteries – but remember to remove these from your pen in the exam room!
Study Myth Buster 3 – Testing only serves to measure a students’ understanding – it plays little/no role in learning.
In fact, testing has been shown to be a very effective way of committing knowledge to memory and improves our ability to recall and apply information. Students should therefore be incorporating “self testing” as part of their exam study regimes.
Study Myth Buster 2 – Studying the same material in different environments improves knowledge retention.
Most students and educators believe that it is more effective to conduct all study in the one quiet location. However, it has been shown that studying in different environments actually improves how much information is committed to memory. It also assists in the development of new neural pathways – which speeds up future learning, as well as how effectively we can retrieve and apply information. So try to study in as many different locations as you can!wn that studying in different environments actually improves how much information is committed to memory. It also assists in the development of new neural pathways – which speeds up future learning, as well as how effectively we can retrieve and apply information. So try to study in as many different locations as you can!
Study Myth Buster 1 – Does Fish Oil Help Boost Brain Function?
This is, in fact, true! But the results are not instantaneous – it takes about 6 weeks for the effects to kick in, so start popping fish oil capsules as soon as you can. A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids will also help protect against degenerative brain function in later years.