the "learning anything" survival bag. (WIP) warning:long post, no TL&DR.

littel bit of background on this post.

hi, my goal with this post is to share and collect as many tested methods of learning. what i will post here is only things i have tried and tested myself. no articals/pseudo tips for learning.

for example i wont post these types of tips:
2.practice more!
3.go over the materials
4.get plenty of sleep

as they are too general and lets be honest… if things ware that easy every body will get a phd by age 14.

i encourage you to test all of these by yourself by:
1.going to khan academy
2. going to a section you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT
3.use said method.
4. do a test given by the site.

if you want to add something to the post please suggest it in the comments. i will try it and see if it works for a lot of instances.

method number 1:

  1. flash cards -
    WAIT! don’t go! i know i said i wont involve any “common” tips for study. but this one is miss communicated in both its effectiveness and application. so PLEASE stay with me.

what are flash cards?
they are small cards, in which you draw/doddle/explain/humanize understandings of abstract concepts and ideas by asking a canonical question to the concept.

how do they look like? (my flash cards)

see how some of them have words on them? thats bad. but nobody’s perfect. :slight_smile:

as the cards have 2 sides, here is an explanation on how to create each part

side A (Answer) :
this is a “condensed” explanation of what you understand, here you write the thing you want to remember/learn/rehearse/pop in to your brain when asking the question on side Q.

side Q(Question):
this is the canonical question to side A. on this side you set “triggers” that will lead you to the Answer, DO NOT USE WORDS HERE. please! this is a huge point. you are not a computer trying to look up in a dictionary the meaning of words. you are an abstract thinker that needs dots and lines to connect between different ideas.

here is an example:
say we want to remember that dogs can bark, and the bark is an expression of 5 different options.
4.hangry (see 1 and 3)

so we have some very “dry” fact we want to remember. the first thing we do is ask ourselfs what is the most obvious connection between the meaning, and the already known information

for example, we all (i hope) know what a dog is. so we dont need to remember that, we all already know that dogs bark.
so here we have an already known fact we can use to “anchor” the A side to.
now, what is the unknown part? or what is the new information we need to add ON TOP of the old one.
i think we all aggre that is the 5 different option for what a bark means.

so now that we identified what we need to know. lets form a canonical question…
we do that by

  1. reverse the order of actions
  2. look for inconsistency
  3. convert the new knowledge into expressive form.
  5. done.

the expressions of anger, attention, hungry, hangry, and annoyed, are displayed with a bark by dogs.
barks are different between dogs. and we are mostly unable to distinguish between types of barks.
expressive form:
5 different dogs, make 5 different bark sounds, each with its own color/meaning
on the Q side:
a drawing of 5 dogs barking, each with its own color, maybe the first letter or two of the expressive word we want to remember.
on the A side:
5 words(the expressed) with corresponding colors to the dogs with the letters from Q side.
done. :slight_smile:

video guide by college geek

method number 2:

make up your own language/symbols.

now this special, as i don’t see a lot of people do this and i always ask myself why.

lets say you are given some material from a story to remember(i deliberately chose a story/literature because the idea is very obvious when used with math/science subjects).

lets say little red riding hood. now we have A LOT of “dry” information there to remember right? add to that all of the different spins modern films put on it… the task seems impossible.

before i show you an example, lets consider what language/symbols usually mean.
we have verbs, actions and the like.
nouns, category, specificity, value, so on…
and the rest.

now i am going to break an old myth probably, but math is actually a language too.
1 + 1= 2
1 is a noun(value/constant) + is a verb and = is specificity.

this fundamental understanding of language, can help you create mini-languages for our little problem.

now for the example:
lets see what NOUNS/CONSTANTS we have in the story…
riding hood.

now we can put them in a category! infact we already have one! ACTORS! but… this is a “dry” category. sense “actors” isn’t helping us understand/remember anything about these constants.
so how about we make up a symbol to represent these 4 elements. how about a square with 4 parts to it, each with the first letter of the actor? so:

|r ,w|
|h, g|

next we get the actions or VERBS:
etc etc.

these is actually easier then it seems.
all we need is a symbolic representation of an action, so shoot could be a small bullet, and the pointy edge will be the shoted, and the outer will be the shooter.
so h => w
will be hunter shoot wolf.
talk could be @. for the “at” abbreviation.
so w @ r, w < g, r @ g(w), h => w, !w!, g @h, r@ h.
will bascly be: wolf talked to riding hood, wolf ate grandma,riding hood talk to grandma(wolf), hunter shoot wolf, wolf RIP, grandma talk to hunter, riding hood talk to hunter.

as you can see, this simple abbreviations help a TON with condensing information and actions.
just be creative :slight_smile:

this is VERY useful for creating a small cheat sheet for a story. lets say for a test with open material?
(think about this as ‘memefing’ the story)

method number 3:

look for the source

let me ask you a question… do you think your teacher/lecturer/professor REALLY remembers everything by heart?
if you are naive as i was… you probably think yes. its there job right?
im sorry, but no. often i find teacher/professors just reusing a slightly altered explanation/question from a textbook/previous tests.
and lets be honest… who can blame them? they have a life too.

so here is what we are going to do… hopefully BEFORE the semester/school year/period of learning starts. its VERY VERY SIMPLE. but so underutilized its almost criminal.

go to the SCHOOL LIBRARIAN. and ASK him/her for books about your subject you are going to learn. mention WHO you are learning from.
most probably, they will SHINE WITH A SMILE OF A MILLION SUNS!. that is because librarians uselly know where to direct you according to your course. MOST OFTEN BETTER THEN THE TEACHER. this effect is a result of the librarians stay, where teachers come and go. more so, when your teacher needs to form tests/prepare for a new semester, they consult with the library for materials to build it in a cohesive and linear way. after all, math is VARY linear in the difficulty curve. and literature must be available for students to do their homework.

moreover, the librarian holds the key to some books that are less heard about. or maybe unknown to most students. usually due to lack of copies or relevance to most courses. but the REAL gem here is the ability to get recommendations from the librarian that are bascly TAILOR MADE for your course AND teacher! (!!!). that means you will encounter books that cover the ALL semester WORD BY WORD from what the teacher says. giving you a PRICELESS edge while making your flashcards.

hopefully these arent common knowlage and i actually helped some of you. :slight_smile:

definition - “methods of learning”: a technique or series of functions that have been proven to result in a more then average effectiveness across numerous fields requiring academic understanding.
in short, how you study.


I have a feeling I’m going to need this when school starts…thank you for taking your time to make this, it’s incredibly detailed!!!

Good Tips and I’ll expand thereupon:

  • Arm Yourself with YouTube: Most topics out there have multiple videos on YouTube (e.g. Calculus, History, etc.) Whether or not you are confused about a topic recently taught in a classroom lecture, watching several videos will help you gain additional perspective.

  • Slip-Catch-Pivot: If you get stuck on new material which follows in sequence from topics already learned (i.e. ‘slip’) - return and start reviewing at the point where you feel reasonably in command of the greater sequence (i.e. ‘catch’) - then pick up with the new material from a more reinforced review done in the previous step (i.e. ‘pivot’)


hi, i myself use these.

but the reason i didn’t add them is actually twofold.

one, both require you will have some basic understanding of the core subject.
for example with youtube you might struggle with physics and search “physics tutorial”. without really knowing what to expect. this is a crucial point in looking for perspective(see what i did there? perspective? physics? ok ill stop…) sense you might encounter material you aren’t sepose to cover in the syllabus or course. hence wont work for some instances.

my second is mainly about what you call Slip-Catch-Pivot.
i hope you wont take it as an offense or disregarde for the method, it is not. infact i belive such actions are aout to be explained in school, or even before that.
reason i dont add it to the bag is because… like you said. it requires VERY sequential subjects. math is the best example. where design is a completely different beast. so it wont work for some instances.

of course both are good tips. however the goal in the main post is more general algorithmic. so to work on all cases, simply with different efficiency. BUT WILL WORK. and improve most probably on what a person is already using.


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If you’re a visual learner like me, then doodling little pictures or diagrams is really great for remembering specific things like names, dates and vocabulary. You could also re-write the lyrics of a song to make it about the subject you need to remember.

For example, when I was learning French at school, I had to remember the word for ‘executioner’ which is ‘bourreau’. I had NO idea how I was ever going to remember it.

Bourreau is similar to the word bureau, which is French for ‘office’ or ‘desk’ (but also a very common French word that many people already know!). So, I drew a dumb little picture of the grim reaper holding a scythe, sat at an office desk doing paperwork. The image was so stupid and funny to me that I have remembered that word for over 10 years. I don’t always remember how to spell it but at least knowing the word is half the battle.

Another example is when I was at university and for an anthropology exam I had to remember Van Gennep’s three stages of rites of passage. The main part I needed to remember was the names. So, I drew a van going into a tunnel (‘passage’). I then divided the van into three sections and wrote the name of each stage (preliminal, liminal, postliminal) on each section and coloured them different colours.

That’s it. That’s how I remembered it and it worked. I wrote about it in my exam and felt so dang proud!

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this dosn’t only work for visual learners :slight_smile:
its actually part of the flash cards so i cant really say it again…

the underlining principle is making a story out of infomation. that way there are multypole pathways in the brain to the same information. :slight_smile:

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Back when I was a student of political science, I used to draw fictional skylines versus paying attention in class; and there were many creepy moments where my mind associated individual buildings with the topics being discussed in the lecture at the time they were drawn.

Same thing in my architectural design work where when looking at the 3D models of some of my buildings - I can recall the music I was listening to when designing them. For example…

This building complex:
Was created to this ODESZA mix:

intresting… ill try and check it out.

did you make skylines out of boredom or whare you simply too good to be bothered with taking notes?

I never used flashcards because I always lost them :joy: if I took one out to look at it, I’d forget where to put it back or I’d forget to put it in or it’d fall off my desk. Or I’d look for a particular flashcard and be searching for ages before I found it.

I used one notebook instead for all my revision, and kept it on my desk at all times so I knew where it was and never moved it from there. In there was a mish-mash of doodles, practice essays and mind-maps which all helped in different ways. I also used post-it notes for individual study sessions to help me see what I’ve already covered.

I also drew my doodles next to all my other writing, so that remembering the drawing automatically made me remember some other random details about the rest of the page.

what i got from your replay is that organization is a key point.
well… thats goes into the general tips.

as for organization METHOD. it can vary from person to person. henche it is not general enough.

that being said tough… drawing was mentioned by seiselen as well. so i assume there is truth to drawing/expressing things in general in your own language/doddles.

the required question is how to we break it into steps and what is the algoritmic idea.
sense obviously drawing whatever in class wont work(A.K.A: not paying attention/not engaging).

[thinking process…]
we have association here between new information and old information that isn’t necceserly following ideals of logic.

perhaps it is less about association… and more about condensing information into pieces we are used to think about in day to day. less about “association” and more about “encoding”.

the closest metaphor i have is with computer files formats. .bin files are hard to work with because only the one who crearted them knows the how the data is organized. but conventions like .mp3 and .avi are much more common sense they are efficient and usfule in many cases.

what do you think?

so i gave this some thinking… good o’l pacing around the room.

and i think i figured something out. at least a starting point.

so lets take a journey into what pi (yes … the number(but not really)) is.

set aside the property’s of the value(A.K.A number). pi is actually a constent. WAIT! dont bash me for heresy yet! i swear i can explain!

i am talking about a new definition for a constant. rather then a value-based definition, lets consider what pi, its a infinite decimal value number. beside the 3 before the point.

but because its infinite, we must limit it to some standard, well defined, constant. (see: limited memory on computers)

hence, pi is an ALGEBRAIC constant. NOT a value constant(at least not until we prove its not infinite xD).

with that in mind, we actually have a general way of starting to build our learning algorithm.
so what is a constant with all learning? what is always there? but the value is changing? (and not its not a witty “its time!” or “change” or “life” answer)

a teacher! or rather, the channel by which you are receiving knowledge from. a book name, a teacher name, a YouTube channel title… etc

this is a algebraic constant too. sense the name/title (A.K.A: value) is changing. but the ‘teacher’ is always present.

this opens up a lot of doors for normalization of methods.

hope i explained my idea well…

do reply :slight_smile: