Embrace These Tough Love Learning Strategies and Leave your Highlighter at Home!


A recent report published by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) identified some of the most, and least, effective learning strategies. Highlighting and underlining led the list of least effective practices. The study did not differentiate between lime green, yellow, or shocking pink highlighters.

Most Effective Strategy

On the other hand, distributed practice ranked as one of the most effective strategies. Distributed practice involves studying at many intervals over time. Shockingly enough, this is far more effective than cramming. Cramming is that popular practice of binge studying just before the exam, then testing with all-night coffee breath, clad in one’s pajamas and baseball cap.

Recipe for Distributed Practice

The best way to employ distributed practice is to schedule regular study sessions and adhere to that schedule. At NRS Securities Exam Prep, each of our courses includes a syllabus that outlines your daily activities. [Just add the elbow grease and salty snacks.]

Add a Dose of Practice Testing

The APS report also ranked practice testing as a highly effective learning strategy. Practice testing includes not only taking exams, but also any exercise where the learner encounters key concepts and must recall detailed content regarding those points. The fancy term for this is cognitive recall.

And a Dash of Flash

A great way to employ both distributed practice and practice testing is to use flashcards. There are several free apps that enable you to create and carry effective flashcards on your phone or tablet. You can flashcard any time you find a few moments — while waiting for your double cappuccino, on the subway, or while sitting in a doctor’s office. Follow this link for great flashcards tips: www.nrs-inc.com/insights/nrs-insights-blog/using-flashcards-to-prepare-for-your-licensing-exam/

Plus a Proven Study Program

Another way to employ both these strategies is to use a study program that provides regular test exercises. NRS’s study programs are chock full of quizzes and drills to continually reinforce your strengths and diagnose your weaknesses.

With Real-Life Humanoids to Help!

One important factor that the study ignored [the nerve!] is human interaction. When self-studying from printed text, we all benefit from guidance and further explanation. At NRS, our team of coaches conduct live, online classes, and these class recordings are subsequently available to you online, OnDemand. Also, our coaches are available daily to help you through any brain roadblocks. A brief consultation by email or phone can save you lots of time and frustration.

Sadly, for sleep-deprived learners everywhere, the Association for Psychological Science report was not a magic bullet, but rather a generous dollop of tough love. Or to frame it in positive terms, the report lets us hurl our highlighters in good conscience and focus on study methods that truly cultivate results: Distributed practice and practice testing.

Best of luck, but if you follow these strategies, you probably won’t need it!