”Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Ancient Chinese proverb
As a real estate agent or as a real estate student, you must work diligently to continually learn regulations and trends within the industry. And when you’ve worked that hard to master your craft, it can be such a disappointment when you’ve forgotten that information just one week later. In fact, research shows that within one week of learning something new, people will have forgotten an average of 90 percent of that information. Losing knowledge that you’ve learned is inevitable. You can’t hold on to every piece of information you’ve ever learned, but there are techniques to help you retain the information that you need most. Whether you’re studying for your real estate exam or completing continuing education courses, these five tricks will help you better absorb new information.
Vary Your Learning
No matter how you learn best, trying different methods of learning will help you see the information at hand from a new perspective. If you’ve already read the content over and over again, try writing some notes on the subject. If you’ve written all the notes you can muster and it’s still not sinking in, try teaching the content to someone else. This will force you to succinctly summarize the information and explain it in a way that makes sense. The average person retains 90% of what they learn when they teach the concept. It’s also proven that one of the best ways to retain that information is to repeat the knowledge. According to psychologists, if you repeat information enough times, it will go into your long-term memory, where it will hopefully stay.
Testing your knowledge will help cement the information in your memory as you recall what you just learned. Testing is the easiest way to find out if you’re succeeding in retaining the concepts you’re studying. Luckily, The CE Shop features practice exams and review guides to help you test your learnings. However, don’t overdo it; if you’re already receiving high scores on practice exams, reward yourself with a break instead of continuing to study. The Learning Center says that “planning to spend hours on end self-testing is likely to cause you to become distracted and lose your attention.”
Make It Fun
Making the learning experience fun will inevitably make it more memorable. If you’re hitting a wall trying to learn a dull topic, make the subject personal to you or relate it to other concepts you know so that it begins to mean something. Relating new concepts to the information you already know builds on past knowledge but also helps ease frustration because it makes anything new seem less daunting or confusing. In school, your teachers likely taught you mnemonic devices in order to help you remember the concepts in their class. It’s no different in your later years - creating a fun analogy or relatable concept around the content will ultimately better help you remember it.
Find Your Focus
Learning on your couch or your bed will make you think you’re relaxing and that mindset will not help you remember what you’re studying. Isolate yourself to a specific room, like an office, where there are no distractions and you will see an increase in your concentration and productivity. Multitasking is a major detriment to learning and it’s best to eliminate any possible distractions from your work area. In many ways, succumbing to multitasking while studying is merely a waste of time because chances are, you won’t be giving either task your full attention. Being alone in a quiet space can also help with another studying technique - reading aloud. Teacher Aric Mitchell states that “reading aloud can help you slow down your brain long enough to latch on to ideas that might otherwise be lost in the translation from the written word to your brain.”
Take a Break
Rereading material over and over again will not help you retain the information, nor will keeping your focus on one thing for hours at a time. Research says that spacing out your studying “over several short periods of time over several days and weeks,” will help you learn the information more deeply and you’ll retain it for much longer. So don’t overload your brain with information all at once because you won’t be able to recall what you’ve learned further down the road. Walking away from your studies can make a big difference, as can taking a quick nap to recharge your energy. Studies indicate that napping pushes “memories to the neocortex, the brain's ‘more permanent storage,’ which prevents them from being ‘overwritten.’" You may be driven to complete your studies, but knowing when to stop and take a break is an essential aspect of successfully retaining knowledge.