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You don't have to study harder, just smarter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Whether it's for a big test, a presentation at work or a new job, we have all had to study.  From the time we are children and into adulthood, we are constantly picking up new information. Learning is a part of everyday life, but one thing many may not know is that they are learning completely wrong.

The first step toward better learning is to train your brain to learn better. You must signal to the brain that the information is important to have it stored for a longer amount of time. One way to do that is to talk about it, self-test yourself, write it down or talk about the subject with a peer.

Another way is to simply change your study environment; new scenery from time to time can help create new associations in your brain making it easier to recall information later. Don't always sit at your kitchen table or your desk. Find a new place to study every so often.

Another technique is spacing or spacing out the information you are feeding into your brain. Spacing out the information during the week will help keep the information fresh over time.

When trying to learn vocab or historical events, it's best to review the information two days after first studying it. Repeating information over a longer interval sends a stronger signal to the brain that it needs to retain the information.

And the most important part of studying? Sleep! Sleep is the finisher of learning, the first half of the sleep cycle helps with retaining facts, while the second half is important for math skills.

Experts also say if you want to retain information for a long period of time, cramming isn't the best idea. When you cram, you are only holding information in your head for a limited amount of time.