TED & Talks

How to study better and avoid a test-day disaster | David Epstein

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Want to learn better? Here’s a lesson from cognitive psychology.

– Getting hints makes students feel like they’re learning, but a cognitive psychology study on monkeys, specifically on two rhesus macaques called Oberon and MacDuff, has proven that getting hints backfires when it comes to test day.

– If you’re relying on outside help, you’re not employing what’s called the ‘generation effect’. The generation effect refers to the mental effort of generating an answer, which actually primes your brain for learning.

– How can you study better? Test yourself before you’re ready, and know that learning is supposed to be frustrating and difficult. If if feels too easy, it might be a sign you’re not generating independent answers.

David Epstein is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Range: Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World (https://amzn.to/2xzQJ90) and The Sports Gene. He has master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism and has worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica and a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He lives in Washington, DC.

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