Improving learning skills

7 Secrets to Improve Your Ability to Learn (For Students of All Ages)

No matter what your age, throughout your life you will be learning. Your formal education ends with high school, but for many the learning never ends. You may attend a university, trade school, night school, community college or adult school. You may enhance your knowledge via business seminars, lectures, books, e-courses, and whatever else shows up in our information society. So wouldn’t it be helpful to have some good study habits and some tools to increase your ability to learn?

Although you may not be studying information to get good grades, retention of what you are learning can help your career, your parenting skills, your business, your relationships, your hobbies, and so much more. So it makes sense to acquire good learning skills sooner than later. Skills such as speed reading and good comprehension are useful for all the great information you want to take in.

Here are some more secrets for improving your ability to learn. Most apply to classes, but you can adapt them to any learning situation.

1. Be Prepared. If you’re taking a class online or at a school, study the curriculum in advance so you know what to expect. Engage in necessary prep work like downloading software, getting a workbook, or setting aside the dates for the course.

2. Get and Stay Organized. If you’re a computer note taker, make sure you set up a file folder system that will enable you to find what you need when you need it. Learning good computer organizational skills will save you a lot of time and headaches. If you take notes by hand, keep them in a labeled binder so you can review them later. Keep any other course papers in the binder as well.

3. Be On Time. If you’re taking a teleclass (this is a class conducted via telephone), call in five minutes early. Clear your desk, and have your pen and pad or a new computer file open. For live classes, show up a few minutes ahead of schedule. When you’re on time, you will have your full attention focused on the class, and not on “catching up” with yourself and what you may have missed.

4. Take Good Notes. If you’re unable to listen and write at the same time, just listen and then write notes after the class is over. If it’s recorded, you can review the class and take notes then. You can also ask the teacher for his/her outline, summary, or notes. Review your last class notes before your next class.

5. Establish Your Learning Style. Which is your best and preferred learning style: visual (reading), auditory (listening) or kinesthetic (doing)? When you know your learning style, take classes that incorporate that style. For example, audio learners keep CDs in their car to turn traffic jams into productive time. Book learners may keep a notebook handy to take notes and read as they exercise on the stepper machine or treadmill. When you study, do you need silence or do you enjoy having music playing in the background? Knowing how you learn best improves your effectiveness.

6. Ask Questions. If you’re taking a course online or in a school, make sure to jot down questions as they come up and ask them when you have a chance. I’ve always believed there are no dumb or silly questions. If you need clarification, you won’t continue learning until you have your questions answered. Most instructors see questions as a sign of an alert, intelligent mind.

7. Complete All Assignments. Stay current with your assignments and complete each one. If you’re reading a self-help book, do all the exercises. If you miss a class, find a way to get the assignments–from another student or the teacher. Online classes are often recorded, so make sure to listen to the recording if you can’t make a class.

With information coming at us from so many directions and in so many formats, it’s difficult to sort out what’s important. It’s even more difficult to retain data with so much to store in our brains. Ultimately we have to be more selective in what we choose to learn, and we need in order to develop effective learning habits. Having good study habits can help.

Do you have any tips that weren’t mentioned above? Please share them in the comments below.

This article was written by David B. Bohl – Husband, Father, Friend, Lifestyle Coach, Author, Entrepreneur, and creator of Slow Down FAST. For more info visit his blog at Slow Down Fast blog.


59 Responses to 7 Secrets to Improve Your Ability to Learn (For Students of All Ages)

  1. Pingback: 7 Secrets to Improve Your Ability to Learn | Slow Down Fast Life Coaching and Lifestyle Design ~ David B. Bohl

  2. Peter says:

    I have a 15 month old son, and every day I watch in fascination as he explores the world. He, likes most children, just has this insatiable curiosity for life.

    These are all great tips, but I suggest taking a step back and making sure you have a curious mind and a love of learning. It is very easy to do well in school and university without having an actual interest in what you are learning. But guess what? If you don’t care about what you are learning, most of it will simply be forgotten a few years down the track (I know because this is my own story).

  3. Marelisa says:

    My tip would be to create a mind map of anything that you’re learning. Also, explain to somebody else what you’ve just learned. Having to put the information in written form and having to synthesize the information so that you can explain it to someone else really helps with learning and retention.

  4. Your number five, “establish your learning style,” is vastly important. I believe, however, it is near impossible to select a teacher or professor that matches the learning style. Often, we do not have a choice of teachers; therefore, our learning depends more upon how we translate the knowledge into our own understanding.

    For those wishing to “learn how they learn,” I recommend the Learning Style Survey. Here is the link:

    Referring back to your list, I would add a crucial “secret to improve your ability to learn:” Establish a process for learning from mistakes.

    I believe that the greatest tool for growth is the mistake. And if we learn how to learn from mistakes, especially how to accept them as part of the learning process, then our growth potential is unlimited…

    “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Confucius

    “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” ~ Confucius

  5. What’s worked best for me is to figure out which of the seven natural intelligences you fall into and then studying accordingly. I wrote a review on the book Switch on Your Brain that explains how to do that. It’s a must!

  6. Avani says:

    Finding out how the learning is put to practice in real life works amazingly.

  7. Kristen says:

    Discuss what you learn with people!

  8. Robert Brown says:

    For me the important thing is the application. In particular figuring out how what I am learning applies to my life.

    If I can see the relevance of what I am learning and that I can slot it in to the things I do in life, then the result is that I learn better and make better use of my new skills.

  9. Pingback: Learning « Wondering & Pondering’s Weblog

  10. Got to agree with the financial philosopher, figuring out what works for you is critical.

  11. Aaron Wright says:

    Why do people need a guide to having common sense?

    Are people that helpless these days?

    Next guide: Did you know eating a lot might make you fat?

  12. Eric Cronin says:

    I have to agree with Aaron. This guide is common sense.

    Go America!

  13. Andy says:

    Very nice! And one of the best ways to learn is by sticking post-it notes around your house, then when you need to remember the info just visualize yourself walking around your house. Usually works for me :)

  14. Pingback: 7 Secrets to Improve Your Ability to Learn « Outofbound’s Weblog

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  16. carlo Veera says:

    I just stumbled upon the site, but I posted the link to my daughter about to start a course of study in Psychology at Aberdeen uni…my addition to this article is that kindergarten level kids should be made aware of there natural surroundings…meaning; get them used as soon as possible to trees and animals….now I got my first child, Ben, to hang on a branch of a tree, when he was prob.. only two months…he hung there..and he liked it…didn’t let go…mum was concerned and at hand…but all was ok. Our youngest: bunged him in the small home pool when he was one mth. old..handled it pretty good broke records later-on…and i introduced them to snakes and all kinds of other animals and plants. Plants that they could eat raw…They loved it…yes…they did. so my point is parents must introduce their progeny to , within reason, to all they like and..of course dislike.. Later,

  17. LM says:

    The most important tip in this article is determining your learning style. If you learn things in a way that your brain functions best… it is not work at all.

  18. Lim Ee Hai says:

    Basically, learning starts when one has the correct atttude and approach. If these 2 things are not in place, then further action becomes a chore, and a tough one. Be honest and truthful with the learning intention. Better not start when the mental part is not resolved or clarified.

  19. Daniel says:

    Really insightful post. We often run workshops based on similar themes with some of our students before they start their overseas programs and it’s hugely successful.

  20. Pingback: Study Matrix Blog - 6 Keys to Effective Learning | Mind Map

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  25. great article about secrets of learning about new things There are some more secrets for improving your ability to learn.These tips are helpful for increasing your learning can go through to these article So if you have some good study habits and some tools to increase your ability to learn you can get more learning and benefit from it.

  26. Leslie says:

    This is a very nice article to prepare ourselves in what ever new things that might come along. I agree with the lists you have given. I also believe that it is best to teach kids at an early age to exercise their brain. Nice post!!

    Learn English with Mary

  27. Pingback: 7 Secrets to Improve Your Ability to Learn « Amy Applebaum, Inc.

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  29. party gowns says:

    I’ll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts

  30. Mawet Kuany says:

    The site I can Recommend it as wonderful for real, I never found such wonderful site since ever

  31. gloria says:

    best of all.I just realized that what ever new things that might come along you need to prepare yourself.

  32. Abhilasha says:

    i hav got into star fantasization which takes up most of my time i sit aside for serious study …so as a result am not able to concentrate and go into procrastination ….. suggest me sumthng how to get out of this time waste trauma… ……

  33. mahad saqib says:

    this is all joking

  34. stanley says:

    well i know while i have read this any time i learn now it will stick in the i can answer question during examination time.

  35. Adam says:

    physical exercise improves learning ability

  36. ujenk says:

    I am still confused to learn english….

  37. FAHEEM_KAKAR2000 says:


  38. Jason Wieber says:

    I am really interested in increasing my learning ability, completing higher level classes with A’s, and overall becoming more mentally able than I’ve ever been before.  I started going back to school this year, after 25 years of being out.  The first semester I took 2 classes, one was sociology and the other an intermediate math course.  I earned A’s in both.  This semester I attempted 4 classes thinking I could handle it.  I was wrong.  Well, I wont say I couldn’t handle it.  Let’s say the work load didn’t double, it quadrupled, and I got overwhelmed, and psyched myself out.  I’m now trying to get myself to the level where my mind can process all the info from 4 or even 5 classes if needed.  In the past, I was always placed in gifted and talented, but lacked the motivation to keep up with the work.  Anyone who has achieved higher level education and degrees, knows that unless you’re one of those people gifted enough to read something once and remember it forever, it takes a lot of hard work to get A’s in all of your college courses or even high school courses for that matter.  This semester, I am so behind in two of my classes, I don’t know if I can catch up.  The other two I have an A average in so far.  So, I’m looking to possibly drop one and salvage what I can from the other.  It’s English 112, which is a writing on literature required course.  I’ve always loathed literature.  I don’t like classes where I have to interpret someone else opinion.  Math I have a knack for.  There is a sure answer there, I just have to learn how to get it, and keep that knowledge, plus the next set of knowledge, so I can do the next level problems.  I learned how to learn Math, if you will.  My method with math, which a lot of people struggle with is not only doing all of the assignments, but redoing the problems when I get home, and before a test, if the professor gave us all odd problems for homework, do all the even problems too.  Do them again, and find as many as I can, and do them until I can do them without thinking about it.  Practice makes perfect.  That’s my theory, and it works.  Now only if I could figure out how to apply that to other information classes, like psychology, English, and biology.  My biggest problem is finding enough time to dol all of those problems for four classes.  It’s hard enough finding time to study like that for two courses.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have a passion for math, and want to know the information.  My psych professor told us in the beginning of the semester to trick ourselves into believing we love psychology, while we’re studying and reading.  I’m starting to understand why now.  I’d appreciate any tips or input for increasing learning and memory power, or even for studying large amounts of info.  Thanks, Jason

  39. Pakshal says:

    do meditaiton so it will increase your ability as well as concentration power n always study at a clean place

  40. Sourav says:

    These tips are very important for learning skill.

  41. Hein waiyan htoon says:

    Actually, I want the steps like these very much.I am a high school student. Sometimes my grades are not brilliant. When i feel so sad about my bad ability, i always read the lines such these. Read much. They make your will power high and strong.

  42. vareesha malik says:


    i always do this thing while taking class

  43. Pingback: My Learning at Humber… | Mercy's Blog

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  45. Laveezasoomro says:

    i ll try if they help me sooo i would surely thanku 

  46. Amaanjunaid says:

    i have tried alll this and first alsooo i was using the same method u guys dont hav something new please give new ideas :)

  47. Sarthak says:

    tips mentioned above r really helpful but there should be some articles to help retain things that are learnt..

  48. ravan ram says:

    always run with your self. it make you able how learn fast from ur each mistake

  49. Grace Boateng says:


  50. kartik says:

    My tip is ,be prepared in your learning session.

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  52. Pamphile Jonathan says:

    Is your second sentence in English @ Aaron Wright?

  53. Pingback: How To Increase Memory Power Of A Student | Brain Enhancer

  54. YOLO says:

    Yea avoid PROCRASTINATION just like how we can avoid death right? LOL

  55. Many people really needs to learn this kind of technique especially that they don’t seem to have such kind of skills that will going to help them on how to learn effectively. The good thing also is that, this is suitable for any kind of ages.

  56. shah fahad afridi says:

    you are great person thanks for your sharing it gives me benefit

  57. Echaure says:

    Learning looks like a challenge for some students who wanted to improve their scores on their work. Thus, there are just some topics in school that a person doesn’t understand well.

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