There’s a Hack Based on Science Will Make You Remember 90% of What You Learn

Last Updated on 2022-11-03 , 9:33 pm

Every teacher will know this: it’s never a matter of teaching a student, but a matter of the student learning what is taught.

If you’re a student or an adult learning something (i.e. a new language or a new skill), you’ll find that being taught and learning are two different matters altogether: being taught is passive while learning is active.

Here’s the ticket: why do some students tend to learn more than others, despite being in class or lecture the same time as others? Many would attribute it to how smart that student is, but apparently, that’s just a minor part of the formula: there’s actually a simple hack on how to learn more effectively and efficiently.

A study in the 1960s (yes, it’s an old secret) shows that the best way to learn something isn’t to be in a lecture hall listening intently to the lecture, or copying down notes. It’s to use what you’ve just learned and use these skills immediately, or to use them to teach others instead.

To break down the study in its simplest forms, here’s a list of activities we use to learn, and how many % of what we learn is being remembered.

5%: From lecture
10%: From reading
20%: From video (now you know why YouTube tutorials are better lecturers!)
30%: From live demo
50%: From group discussion
70%: From doing what you learn
90%: From doing what you learn immediately or teaching other what you learn

Here’s a simple real-life experience: when I was in NS, during my Basic Military Training, everyone in my platoon was confused on how to handle a rifle after a lecture. My buddy sat down, told us he wasn’t that sure as well but tried to teach us.

A self-professed slow learner, he suddenly became an expert after teaching us—while we were all blur-like-sotong. We then tried to teach each other (yeah, we know this trick long ago) and ta-da: we all became experts.

If we had, say, just try to remember based on the lecture, only 5% of what was said would be memorized.

This hack can be used for literally everything: from learning a new language to learning a new software.

So, instead of wasting your time copying down notes a hundred times and hoping that you’ll learn sometime, why not just spend five minutes teaching others what you’ve learned?

Featured Image: metamorworks /