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Mainstream news sources love to take memory competition champions and try to extrapolate advice for the average person looking to remember stuff. They look into the study routines of these memory experts and try to find the strategies that make them successful. Then, they assume, a regular person using that memory strategy will show similar results.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Memory champions are not your average person. It’s not only that though. Memory challenges are not the daily challenges for an average person’s memory. Studying for class isn’t the same thing as taking memory challenge. Just because a strategy is efficient for memorizing a long list of cards or numbers, it doesn’t mean it’s efficient at remembering complex ideas for class.

There are some things to be learned from memory champions but after reading too many big news articles touting the wrong things to learn, I think it’s about time someone told the full story.

A Gifted Breed

Taking memory advice from a memory champion is kind of like taking basketball advice from a professional basketball player. Sure, it has some value. That being said, you need to be careful with it. Let’s say I asked the tallest person in professional basketball how to play good defense. I’d likely hear about how important it is to get rebounds and block your opponent’s shots. Considering I’m not even close to tall enough to compete in blocking shots and collecting rebounds, that advice is not only unproductive but counter-productive.

Memory champions are like the tall guy in basketball giving advice. They do not have to play with the same tools as you or I do. As you look into memory competitors you’ll find that they use a wide variety of different strategies to help remember things. That could mean any of a number of different things. That could mean there is no best strategy. It could mean there is a different best strategy for everyone.

Not all memory champions are particularly intelligent but I would hesitate to call any of the major competitors anything less than gifted in memory. Memory competitions are unbelievably challenging. While an average person may be able to try and compete, to win this competition requires more than raw skill (in the same way winning a basketball game versus pros requires more than just skills.) It’s why we don’t see 5 foot basketball pros.

Invested In Memory

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One of the most common pieces of advice I hear journalists extrapolate from memory champions is the Loci method. I’ve gone over my annoyance with the Loci method a number of times and this is one of its main causes.

The loci method, sometimes called the memory palace, is a strategy where you imagine you’re in a building going from room to room. In each room you imagine seeing weird things that represent the idea you’re trying to remember. Memory champions regularly use this strategy to win memory competitions. That does not mean it’s a smart strategy for the average person to use for studying.

The loci method is a pain in the ass for someone inexperienced with it. (Heck, it can be a pain in the ass for people with plenty of experience.) 99% of students that attempt to apply this strategy give up before they even come close to seeing results. That is understandable.

The loci method requires a ton of initial investment time. You need to practice it to get good at it. I would also argue that most of the memory champions use it because they’re gifted enough to use it effectively.

Perhaps there is a time and a place it would be efficient for students to use the loci method but I personally haven’t seen it. There are much easier and quicker methods for regular students to use on a daily basis.

Short Term Trickery

I can come up with a slew of good strategies designed to remember stuff for short periods of time. Most memory competitions focus on relatively short periods of time. That means the strategies used can end up being dramatically different.

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A student has weeks to study for tests. The information they study two weeks before the test needs to stick. The information they study a week before the test needs to stick. Heck, the information they study the night before the test needs to stick. A memory competitor generally only needs their information to stick for a short period of time. The day after a competition they can forget absolutely everything.

This is a fundamental difference between memory competition strategies and study strategies. While I recommend taking advantage of short term memory, most of studying comes down to getting information to stick in the long term memory. This focus on the long term memory changes the required steps.

This is more speculation than fact but from my experience there are a few specific differences.

The short term memory is better at remembering small amounts of information than the long term memory. That means, if you study 15 minutes before your test, you’ll remember more when it comes test time than if you studied the same stuff a week earlier. That being said, once you increase the amount of information you’re trying to remember dramatically (like memory champions do) you’re looking at a significantly harder task than trying to remember the information using a long term strategy.

Naturally, the distinction between short and long term memory is not as clear as I made it sound. The fundamental point to take away is that what they do isn’t what you need to do.

There are plenty of things to learn from memory champions. In fact, if you are highly disciplined and gifted then I’m willing to bet there are seriously powerful study strategies you can learn but these are not strategies that the average person should waste any of their time worrying about. You don’t need the fancy memory strategies of the latest memory champion to do well. In more cases than not, that strategy will be unnecessarily complex.

You have better things you can spend your time doing.

Do you want to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives. If you’re looking to learn even more secrets to studying, be sure to check out the ebooks in the sidebar.

What Memory Pros Can’t Teach You About Studying

Accelerated Learning Secrets First Written About In Shakespeare’s Times Reemerging And Being Conclusively Proven In Today’s Academic Journals

Professors Karpicke of Purdue University and Roediger, III of Washington University published an incredible paper that is making waves in the top rungs of Academia.

Colleges have taken pride in their ability to train the next generation of students for decades now. By subjecting their students to intimidating reading, long and immense lectures, and rigorous and unforgiving testing, they claim to have properly trained their graduates.

But modern research methods are calling those very claims into question.

You see… what these professors have discovered (and more are joining them every day) is shaking the very foundations of academia – all of the endless hours of studying, reading books, taking notes, and listening to endless lectures… doesn’t really teach students all that much – not even preparing them for the very tests they’re using.

The exact things that colleges and many professors have been encouraging are hindering students’ abilities to learn by occupying their time with ineffective methodologies.

Effective learning isn’t rocket science either….

“Francis Bacon wrote about these effective study strategies in the 1500’s – and the research is proving that we should have been listening to the preachers of this all along,” says Aaron Richardson, founder of Smart Student Secrets, a decade old, religiously followed, website dedicated to reintroducing these strategies to modern students.

“The reality is, the average university spends 4 years lecturing a student on what they could master in 6 months or less – if they used effective strategies.”

Confronting Mr. Richardson, I grilled him on the academic defenses of our country’s historic and prestigious Universities.

R: Doesn’t the work separate the wheat from the chaff? Give them work and those that best do it are better BECAUSE they worked harder to do it. The hard work itself is the target.

A: Assuming the wheat is the people that mindlessly follow directions and don’t have better things to do with their time… sure. But I’m advocating for the creative thinkers that are willing to challenge the status quo. They’re the wheat I’m giving my tools to.

R: But colleges say your strategies help you score higher on tests but not “understand” the material in a deeper way. Any response?

A: First thing, in academia, you’re judged on your ability to pass tests and answer questions – they have no other way. By their own standards, their strategies are worse.

Second, mull on any idea for a few years longer and you’ll have a deeper understanding of it. That’s the easy part. You do it every time you take a shower. The hard part is learning enough of the component parts to be able to mull it over. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can understand it deeper.

And one more thing…

I don’t really care if they criticize because the data speaks for itself. I advocate for the data their own studies are proving. They may be able to hide the truth for a while but it’s getting out and the longer they hold out, the worse it’s going to look for them – not me.

R: Mr. Richardson you have recently published a guide outlining his effective strategies in detail. It’s called, “How To Study Happier,” and has a 4 star review from students and some reviews making some pretty impressive claims. Right?

A: I’ve dedicated my life to helping students that are like the kid I used to be. And I guarantee that my book can help you get better grades – and if you’re not 100% satisfied with the changes then I’ll refund it completely. Show me one college that will do that for you!

R: So… Mr. Richardson, I’ve heard you’ve been taking some heat from academia over your claims.

A: For legal reasons, I have to keep my mouth shut on this one. All I can say is that I can’t guarantee my content will stay available much longer. Get it now or prices will be higher for legal reasons (if I can even keep the book available.)

Now is the time to click on the link I’ll add below, fill in the boxes, and get your copy today if you’re interested.

Get your copy of How To Study Happier


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2 thoughts on “What Memory Pros Can’t Teach You About Studying

  • March 1, 2016 at 7:16 am

    i didn’t think so? i think long term is something you’re apt to reemmber for at least a few months, right? this password i changed in nov i’m not sure what qualifies perhaps it’s short long term memory

  • December 15, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Thank you for explaining this. It’s easy to compare yourself to those people with amazing memory and feel depressed – even more after trying out their tricks and finding out that they don’t work for you at all. The loci method sounds amazing, but it’s extremely tricky to come up with a mental image that helps you memorize a particular information.


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