How to Study Effectively for School or College – Top 6 Science-Based Study Skills

How to study effectively with 6 essential skills. Boost your study performance with strategies recommended by science – The ANSWER Method.

These tips are for high school or university students preparing for exams or wanting to learn more effectively.

For free downloadable posters about these six strategies for effective learning, go to –

This video is a collaboration between The Learning Scientists ( and Memorize Academy (

EXAMPLES of specific Elaboration questions from MATH

You’re studying calculus. The topic is “derivatives”. How do derivatives work? Well, they are the rate of the change. How does that work? You take a look at one point, then you take a look at a prior point, over some interval. And then you take the difference divided by the interval. As that interval approaches zero, you have the instantaneous rate of change. Why does this happen? Because “instantaneous” means that the interval is nothing.


Imagine you are studying neural communication, maybe in a biology, neuroscience, or psychology class.

How does neural communication work? If we look at one neuron, the dendrites receive messages from many other neurons, and then the messages converge in the soma. If there is enough of a positive charge within the soma, then an action potential will occur, and an electrical signal goes down the axon. When the signal reaches the terminal buttons, neurotransmitters release into the synapse where they communicate with the dendrites of the next neuron.

Why does this happen? The neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow neurons to communicate with one another. The pattern of activation among different neurons (which neurons fire, how quickly, what neurotransmitters they release) determines the message in your brain.

You might then ask, how does the axon work? The axon is a long tail-like structure that produces the electrical signal.

How does the signal travel? The axon is covered in myelin sheath, a fatty substance that insulates the axon. The myelin sheath works like the rubber around the cord of an electrical appliance, and it serves to make the electricity travel faster.

Why have myelin sheath? Because we need our neurons to be able to send signals fast, since we need to be able to react, make decisions, move quickly, perceive feeling in our skin instantly, etc.

Make sure to compare ideas to learn how they are similar and different. For example, an axon and terminal buttons are both parts of a neuron; but, the axon sends an electrical signal while the terminal buttons release chemicals. Both Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease are related to the neurotransmitter dopamine, but Schizophrenia is the result of too much dopamine while Parkinson’s disease is the result of too little dopamine.

Also, try to make connections to your own memories or experiences, and compare ideas to learn how they are similar and different. We already made the connection from myelin sheath on axons to the rubber on cords to electrical appliances.

Here is another example: a family member or close friend who suffers from Schizophrenia disease is suffering from too much dopamine. This means that too much dopamine is being released, by the terminal buttons, into the synapse. A doctor could give them a drug to reduce the dopamine in their brain, called a dopamine antagonist. If too much of this drug is used, the patient might begin developing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

How would a dopamine antagonist work? … continue asking yourself elaborative questions!


Imagine you’re studying World War II, and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

You could ask yourself, how did this attack happen? On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The attack included Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes.

Why did this happen? The Japanese intended to destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet so that it could not interfere with Japanese operations.

Here you could also ask another type of question: What was the result of this historic event? Well, Japanese casualties were light, while they damaged eight U.S. Navy battleships. The Arizona was among those that the Japanese sunk, and was not raised from the shallow water. U.S. aircrafts were also destroyed, and 2,403 Americans were killed (1,178 were injured).

Why is this event important? The day after the attack, Roosevelt delivered his Infamy Speech, the United States declared war on Japan, and Japanese-Americans were then relocated to internment camps.

You could then go on: how did the U.S. enter the war? How did the Pearl Harbor attack lead up to the release of the atomic bomb? How did the war end? And so on. There are so many ways to explain the idea and add details!
Video Rating: / 5

College doesn’t equate success...Trust me, I’m a teacher | Melanie Whitney | TEDxCSULB

Many of us spend countless hours investing in our education and our careers to make a better living, but how much time do we invest in ourselves to make a better life? In this painfully real but hopeful talk, CSULB Instructor, Melanie Whitney, elaborates on 3 things you will not learn inside a traditional classroom, but are absolutely necessary to create a life outside of it. Whether you’re a student or professional, this one will inspire you to finally answer the question, what am I doing with my life?

Melanie Whitney is a Communication Studies educator at CSULB. For six years, she developed community programs targeted towards underprivileged youth. Upon receiving her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies she left for Los Angeles in search of her dream job in Event Planning and Public Relations (that was short lived). After many let downs and lessons, she found herself in a unforeseen career that made her happier than ever, being a teacher. The biggest lesson she has learned is that college prepares us how to make a living, but not a life. Obtaining your degree is a small part of the equation. The real key to “success” is understanding who you are, what brings you joy, and accepting that those things will inevitably change.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
Video Rating: / 5

37 thoughts on “How to Study Effectively for School or College – Top 6 Science-Based Study Skills

  1. What do you mean by leave 2-3 days between study sessions on the same subjects. Do you mean study for a each single subject 2 to three days?

  2. I have been saying this for years!! Great talk. Education and learning are fantastic but College is just one of many ways to learn and it is a very expensive way at that, and what really gets you a job is what sets you apart from your competition. So how would anyone having a generic MBA set you apart?? I have met many very successful business people that have created great innovation's and companies that have no formal education and often dropped out of college, this fact disproves the notion you Need a degree be be a success. Just boggles my mind smart people can not see and understand this premise. When I hire new employees the last thing I care about is your MBA or B.A. in communications from college, I want to know what you have accomplished, how well you work with others, how independent you are and what skills and knowledge you have that are relevant and a willingness to learn, not that you are decent at passing tests and paying tuition. We need to over this obsession with everyone needing formal education to be a productive part of modern society, and looking down on other career's.

    Rant over. Lol

  3. The truth is: entering College without understanding your interest and passion will not lead to success, only to stress. Before entering college you must really know yourself and interests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *