11 Scientific Tips That Can Help You Learn Anything Faster

William Wei/Business Insider

Use what you know to learn what you don't.

If kids encounter a topic they have trouble wrapping their heads around, parents should help them to understand how it relates to something they've already learned.

The practice is called "associative learning."

A student might like football but struggle with differential calculus. If he can see the similarities between a spiraling pass and the slope of a curve, he stands a better chance at understanding the abstract concept.

Looking things up isn't always a bad thing.

Kids should learn how to grapple with tough problems — the act teaches them discipline.

But evidence suggests spending too long on a problem can make it worse.

In 2008, researchers found that unresolved tip-of-the-tongue moments can gradually slip people into an "error state," in which their memory of the concept or fact gets replaced by the memory of the tip-of-the-tongue moment.

The solution: If you know you know it, but just can't remember it, Google it.

Stewart Butterfield/Flickr

Teaching other people helps you, too.

Scientists have dubbed it "the protégé effect."

When you take something that you've learned and put it into your own words, you're not only demonstrating mastery of an idea — you're refining your own understanding of it.

In distilling information into small pieces that someone can easily digest, the teacher must gain a certain intimacy with the subject matter.

That's why older siblings are generally smarter than younger siblings, one 2007 study suggested — because one of the jobs of the older sibling is passing knowledge along after having received it.

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