- Nose of a Handley-Page manned by three men (Photo credit: National Library of Scotland)
Anyone who is familiar with the First World War will know that in the early stages of the flying part of the war, the aeroplanes were notoriously difficult to fly, and their weaponry evolved from rocks being thrown at
English: Royal Flying Corps Sopwith Camel in 1914-1916 period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
each other, to the use of hand-guns, and finally to the fitting of machine-guns. The planes then evolved into different types : bombers would drop their deadly load and fighters would protect them. But the life-span of new flying recruits averaged 20 minutes. Hence the name "The Twenty-Minuters". Quite sad.
But in our context, 20 minutes is about the best length of time for you to spend studying a section. We have mentioned before, the Amygdalae in the brain are the gateways to your ability to memorize information, but when the neurotransmitters inside the Amygdalae dry up, your ability to learn more information shuts down. That's when you need a change of scenery.
English: St John's church, Hilltown (2) The clock is only two minutes slow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why Twenty Minutes?
I'm not actually making 20 minutes an exact number here for you. It will vary from one person to another, but the average length will be 20 minutes. These are the steps to follow in the 20 minutes.
1. Gather your chunk of information.
This will be the chunk of information of between 5 and 9 facts. Make sure that they flow in the grand scheme of your studying progress. They mustn't be isolated. If they are isolated they are doomed.
Information overload (Photo credit: Martino!)
2. Connect the information with previous information.
Make obvious connections before learning and memorizing the information.
3. Make sure you understand the information.
It's pointless learning the information if you do not even understand it. Memorizing something for the sake of rote learning makes your brain a simple USB flash-drive. It stores information. It doesn't make it a fully-functional integrating, thinking and solving, living entity it was made to be.
4. Memorize the information in as many ways as possible.
Don't use just one way. If you are good at drawing, draw crazy pictures. For example, when I was studying Psychiatry, when I was learning about the medication called Sertraline, I drew a Search-Light : do you see the connection my brain made? Sertraline sounds like Searchlight? At least it did to me. Maybe I'm just crazy. Anyway. Moving along. If you draw good mindmaps, then use those to their maximum potential. Write a quick rap song. Act out the facts in a small skit. Use multiple ways to learn the facts.
John_Deere_4630_Tractor.jpg (Photo credit: file039)
5. When your eyes glaze over, stop.
Teachers will recognize this point very easily. Eyes become glazed over, bodies change positions and become slumped, people begin looking elsewhere. If you notice your mind start wondering, then stop. If you haven't finished your total number of facts - this has given you an idea as to where to set the bar for how much to learn in one sitting. When this happens, those Amygdala neurotransmitters have been all used up.
This whole process usually takes around 20 minutes or so, but can vary widely, depending upon each individual person, subject being learned, and the type of exam being learned for.
Take a Break
This is essential. If you were to try and carry on learning now, your Amygdalae would simply bounce off all incoming information away from your learning centres. This break should be about 5 to 10 minutes and consist of you physically getting up, moving around, refreshing yourself with something to eat and drink (I personally don't have an aversion to good filter coffee here!). Go outside into the sun, stretching your legs. But don't do this for more than about 4 or 5 minutes.
Do the same again but differently
Now that you've given your neurotransmitters a chance to rebuild, you now go back and do the exact same section you have just done. The difference now is that you are going to do it in completely different ways to ways that you have done before. If you learned the facts in , let's say 3 different ways previously, I want to now to find 3 or 4 different
ways to revise it. They must be crazy, different, and way-out. You must feel out of you depth and you must feel way out of your comfort zone. This is when you will remember your work.
Keep doing this over and over
Keep this cycling over and over. Give yourself a 30 minutes break for every two hours of studying you have done. After studying for about six hours, you must give yourself at least one hour's break and you must go out somewhere and do something different.
Replica of Vaughn's Camel F.I currently displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)