Quick infodump of the best, most concise material.
1. Great sleep
2. Great relationships, religiosity (better for health than fitness!)
3. Great nutrition
4. Great fitness
The best way to train your brain to be smarter is cardio, and the second best is lifting weights.
What actually works beyond IQ and temperament: http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/blackelite.htm
(What works for blacks will work doubly for others.)
That’s from Self-Directed Behavior by Watson and Tharp.
UPDATE: Improved version of this and the following here https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/updated-textbook-study-skills/.
Using the Spacing Effect to Study Less and Learn More
“[The spacing effect is] one of the most remarkable phenomena to emerge from laboratory research on learning.” —Frank N. Dempster
You can study fewer hours per week while learning more if you work with your brain rather than against it. This technique alone—once I learned how to apply it—completely transformed my college life. It’s the most important technique I describe in this book. If you adopt the spacing effect alone for your own study plan, your college life will become a lot easier. But when you use the other success principles in conjunction with the spacing effect, you’ll notice dramatic leaps in your learning.
How to Jump-start the Spacing Effect
Applying the spacing effect is easy. It just takes practice to figure out what works best for you. The theory says that the more spaced exposures you get, the better. How many is ideal? I recommend at least eight to ten spaced exposures, leaving several hours to several days between each of them. To achieve this goal, start racking up repetitions immediately. The easiest way to do this is to read the assigned readings before class, go to the lecture, and then review your lecture notes before going to bed. You’ll get three spaced exposures while most of your classmates get one: the lecture (unless they’re sleeping, texting, or committing other academic sins). Before using spaced exposures to reinforce information, you must get that information in your head. This is why it’s vital to read assigned chapters and other readings at least one day before a lecture. Reading will give you an overview of the concepts you need to learn and a first exposure to all the important details. Listening to the lecture and taking good notes reinforces what you read and develops more neural connections. At night, when you review your lecture notes, you get a third spaced exposure. Some top students need only these three steps in order to succeed: they never have to study the information again. I always needed more steps, but if this works for you, rejoice. For those of us who lack genius, it’s a little harder—but not much.
Use Surveying to Review Textbook Chapters in Ten Minutes or Less
The first step in surveying is to read an assigned chapter in its entirety—preferably the day before the class in which it will be discussed. Reading a chapter in its entirety will make a thorough first impression on your inhospitable neurons. Don’t worry about highlighting or writing any notes: Read quickly and take it all in. (If time is short, you can even skip the actual reading. More on this later.)
When you’re ready to review the chapter, it’s time to survey. By “survey,” I mean a quick pass through the chapter that doesn’t involve reading every word. When you survey, you concentrate only on the crucial stuff. Surveying after reading might sound counterintuitive; many students are naturally inclined to survey before reading a chapter. But if you first read the chapter in its entirety, afterward you can review all the most important ideas in that chapter in about five to ten minutes. This will let you review all the chapters covered on a test in just a few minutes a day, allowing you to rack up many spaced exposures while spending little time studying. The combination of the spacing effect and surveying is the real secret behind getting fantastic grades with little effort.
For a survey to really hit all a chapter has to offer, you must know exactly what to pay attention to. When surveying a chapter, read all titles, boxed items, photo captions, vocabulary definitions, graphs, bulleted points, any bolded or italicized text, any other text that is emphasized and, most importantly, the first sentence in every paragraph, finishing with the chapter summary.
Reading the first sentence in each paragraph is essential, because the first sentence is usually the topic sentence (notice how the topic sentence of this paragraph contains the vital idea, while what follows elaborates on that main idea). If the first sentence is not the topic sentence, keep reading until you find the topic sentence, but know that it almost always comes first or second. If the first sentence isn’t the topic sentence, make a mark at the beginning of the sentence, such as an X, so you’ll know to skip it when doing your spaced reviews. When you do find the topic sentence, underline the first word or otherwise mark it so you’ll know that’s the one to read when surveying. If you come across another sentence that you can’t help but mark, underline the first word or make some other small mark to remind yourself to review it. But don’t get carried away and mark everything as vital for review.
The topic sentence gives you the gist of the entire paragraph. The following sentences are there to support and expand on that topic. By reading all emphasized text and the first sentence in each paragraph, you’ll get the main points, which are likely to make up the test, and you’ll be reminded of the details in those paragraphs. To see how this works, pick up any textbook and read the topic sentence in every paragraph. You will find that 90% of paragraphs start with the topic sentence and that, by reading these and all other emphasized text, you can get a basic idea of what those pages are trying to teach you.
To finish the survey, read the chapter summary. The summary neatly ties up all the main ideas in the chapter.
-JONATHAN LEE DAVIDSON
THE COLLEGE SUCCESS CHEAT SHEET Simple Ideas to Help You Study Less and Learn More
On math and math-heavy subjects: Treat the problem solving component like a mechanical skill, like learning to build machines and fix cars. It helps a lot if you get off on the feeling of mastery from learning to do mechanical operations quickly (think of NASCAR tire changes). When it comes to solving problems, there are no substitutes for stubbornness, intrinsic interest in the product or solution, and raw talent. Always remember it’s better to have a big garage filled with more tools specialized to each job than a few multitools. The more time you spend with your tools and your hobby projects, the better you’ll be at picking up new ones on the fly.
Treat the conceptual component like a liberal arts subject and study it like philosophy (because natural philosophy is actually a type of philosophy). Your conceptual depth in the subject is the biggest bottleneck on your breadth (compare to statistical literacy and the social sciences). You’d be surprised how well this applies to the trades as well. Apply the same study skills as in the humanities to the conceptual part of the math/science course, then schedule extra, separate time for the mechanical problem-solving study skills.
The cognitive skills necessary for mathematical and mechanical problem-solving overlap bigly with those necessary for beating notoriously difficult video games like Dark Souls or Ninja Gaiden (i.e. techniques of applying mental caliber and learned optimism). Train each to see improvements in the other. The cognitive skills necessary for mastery of mathematical and mechanical exercises (especially the more algebraic/analytical ones) overlap with those necessary for doing speed runs or playing guitar hero games on the highest difficulty (i.e. techniques of applying mental speed, entering a flow state, and pure disagreeable stubbornness). The cognitive skills necessary for statistical reasoning and real-world engineering overlap with min-maxing (i.e. balancing concerns and making value judgments). Compsci splits into programming, which is more like algebra (speed and caliber), and computer engineering, which is more like real-world engineering (min-maxing). Also compare caliber to gardening/farming, speed to hunting, and min-maxing to gathering.
That’s the basics. For more, read these two books and Cal Newport. If you get off on outperforming your IQ, look into accelerated learning combined with mnemonic techniques (put that AH to work!).