13 Smart Study Tricks to Boost Learning and Retention

  • ACIO
  • November 29, 2023

 Have you ever struggled to remember that one detail during exam time? 
 Or do you find it difficult to remember all the complex formulas, theorems and rules?
 Or are there some topics that you certainly cannot get your grip on no matter how many hours you are studying?

✅  Worry not! Today we will tell some secrets that can help.

Studying is an essential aspect of academic success, but it’s not always about the hours spent hitting the books. The key to effective learning lies in studying smart. By implementing certain Smart Study Tricks, students can optimise their study sessions, enhance retention, and achieve better results without feeling overwhelmed

Hidden Smart Study Tricks refer to less conventional or lesser-known approaches to learning that can be highly effective in aiding comprehension, retention, and overall academic performance. These techniques often go beyond traditional methods and are designed to make studying more enjoyable and productive. Here are some hidden study techniques that you can incorporate into your learning routine:

13 Smart Study Tricks:

1. The Feynman Technique:

Named after Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, this technique involves explaining complex concepts as if you were teaching them to someone else. Break down the subject matter into simple terms and use analogies to make it easier to understand. Teaching the material in your own words not only reinforces your understanding but also highlights areas where you might need to review or seek further clarification.

The Feynman Technique is a powerful tool for mastering complex subjects. Feynman believed if you couldn’t explain a concept simply, you didn’t truly understand it.

To implement this technique:

  • Choose a concept or topic you want to study.
  • Pretend you are explaining it to someone with no prior knowledge of the subject.
  • Break down the concept into simple terms, using analogies and real-life examples to illustrate your points.
  • Identify any areas where your explanation falters or becomes unclear.
  • Revisit your study materials to strengthen your understanding in those areas.
  • Repeat the process until you can effortlessly explain the topic in clear and concise terms.

2. Retrieval Practice:

Retrieval practice is the act of recalling information from memory without referring to notes or textbooks. This technique enhances long-term retention and strengthens memory pathways. Instead of simply rereading or highlighting your notes, actively quiz yourself or use flashcards to test your knowledge. The act of retrieving information from your memory cements it more effectively in your brain.

Retrieval practice, also known as the testing effect, instead of merely reviewing your notes or textbooks, use techniques like:

  • Flashcards: Create flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the other. Quiz yourself regularly to recall the information.
  • Practice Tests: Take practice tests or mock exams to simulate real exam conditions and assess your knowledge.
  • Explain Out Loud: Talk through the material without referring to your notes to test your recall abilities.

Retrieval practice strengthens memory pathways and facilitates better long-term retention, helping you recall information more effectively during exams.

3. The Memory Palace Technique:

Popular among detective fanatics as the Sherlock’s Method, the memory palace, or method of loci, is an ancient mnemonic technique used to remember vast amounts of information. It involves associating pieces of information with specific locations in a familiar environment, such as your home or a route you frequently take. As you mentally walk through the locations, the information becomes easier to recall. This technique is particularly useful for memorising lists or sequences.

To use this technique, follow these simple steps:

  • Select a familiar location (e.g., your house) and mentally walk through it in your mind.
  • Associate specific pieces of information with distinct locations or objects within that space.
  • Visualise the information as vividly as possible within the locations.
  • To recall the information, mentally walk through your memory palace and “see” the associated details.

This technique is particularly helpful for remembering lists, speeches, or any content that benefits from a structured sequence.

4. Chunking:

Chunking involves breaking down large amounts of information into smaller, more manageable chunks. This technique is especially helpful for memorising long lists, sequences, or numbers. By grouping related items together, you can remember them more efficiently. For example, instead of trying to memorize a random string of numbers, chunk them into groups of 3 or 4 digits.

For instance, when trying to remember a long string of numbers, you can group them into smaller units:

Original: 789652341203

Chunked: 789 – 652 – 341 – 203

This approach makes it easier for your brain to process and remember information.

5. Dual Coding:

Dual coding combines visual and verbal information to improve memory and understanding. When studying, try to create visual representations of the material, such as diagrams, mind maps, or infographics, while also explaining the concepts verbally. This dual coding helps reinforce the connections between visual and verbal memory systems.

Some examples of dual coding techniques include:

  • Mind Maps: Use mind maps to organise and connect different ideas or concepts visually.
  • Diagrams and Charts: Create flowcharts, diagrams, or graphs to represent information visually.
  • Infographics: Summarize complex information into visually appealing infographics.

The combination of visual and verbal processing reinforces memory and deepens understanding.

6. Music and Sound:

While studying, some students find that background music or ambient sounds help them concentrate and block out distractions. Classical music, instrumental tracks, or white noise are commonly used for this purpose. Experiment with different sounds to find what works best for you, but ensure the music or sound does not interfere with your focus.

Additionally, creating mnemonic devices with rhymes or tunes can help you remember specific information. Associating facts with a memorable jingle or song can make the content easier to recall during exams.

7. Handwriting Notes:

Writing notes by hand is a proven method for better learning and retention. The physical act of writing engages multiple senses, reinforcing memory and comprehension. Additionally, taking handwritten notes allows you to customise the organisation and structure of the content according to your preferences, making it more meaningful and memorable.

8. The SQ3R Method:

SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. This method involves surveying the material before diving into it, generating questions to guide your reading, actively reading to answer those questions, reciting the information out loud or in writing, and reviewing the material regularly. This technique promotes active engagement and better comprehension of the content.

The SQ3R method is a structured approach to studying textbooks and academic materials. The steps involved in SQ3R are:

  • Survey: Skim through the material to get an overview of the chapter or topic. Pay attention to headings, subheadings, and summaries.
  • Question: Formulate questions based on the headings and subheadings. This creates a purpose for your reading.
  • Read: Actively read the material to answer your questions and understand the content thoroughly.
  • Recite: After reading a section, close the book and recite the key points and answers to your questions aloud or in writing.
  • Review: Periodically review the material to reinforce your understanding and aid long-term retention.

The SQ3R method promotes active engagement with the text, ensuring that you grasp and retain the information effectively.

9. Spaced Repetition:

Spaced repetition is a study technique that involves reviewing information at gradually increasing intervals over time. Instead of cramming all the material in a single session, you revisit the content at specific intervals. This approach is based on the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, which suggests that we forget information rapidly after learning it but retain it better with spaced repetition. Using spaced repetition tools like Anki or SuperMemo can help you optimise this technique.

Also Read: How to avoid the cramming habits?

10. Use Mnemonics:

Mnemonics are memory aids that use associations or acronyms to help you remember information. For example, “ROY G. BIV” is a mnemonic to recall the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Creating your own mnemonics can make memorisation more fun and effective.

11. Cornell Note-Taking System:

The Cornell note-taking system is a structured approach to note-taking that promotes active engagement and better retention. Divide your notebook page into two sections: one for key points and another for related questions or summaries. After class or while studying, add cues or questions in the right column and use the left column for brief notes. The bottom section can be used for summarising the main ideas.

12. Use Colour-Coding:

Colour-coding your notes, study materials, or flashcards can help you categorise and organise information. Assign specific colours to different topics or categories to make connections visually. This technique enhances recall and simplifies information retrieval during exams.

13. Implement the Pomodoro Technique:

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks study sessions into short intervals, followed by short breaks. This approach promotes focus and prevents burnout by creating a sense of urgency during study periods. Here’s how to implement the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Choose a specific task to study.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes (known as one “Pomodoro”).
  • Work exclusively on the task until the timer rings.
  • Take a short 5-minute break after each Pomodoro.
  • After completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break (around 15-30 minutes).

This technique helps you stay disciplined, maintain concentration, and make steady progress in your studies while avoiding fatigue.


Smart Study Tricks involves recognising the importance of rest and self-care in the learning process. Sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and cognitive function. Ensure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night to maximise your learning potential.

Incorporating these hidden Smart Study Tricks into your learning routine can diversify and enrich your approach to studying. Remember that everyone learns differently, so feel free to experiment with different techniques to find the ones that work best for you. Consistent practice and an open-minded approach to learning will lead to improved academic performance and a deeper understanding of the subjects you study.

Remember that different Smart Study Tricks work best for different individuals. The key is to experiment with various methods and identify which ones suit your learning style and preferences. By incorporating these hidden study techniques into your routine, you can optimise your learning experience and achieve better academic results.

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