Brain Hacks to Learn Better and Raise Your GPA

By the SMU Social Media Team

Not all of us can make it to the dean’s list, nor are we all geniuses at mastering theorems, but thankfully there are hacks aplenty to enhance our learning journey. From cramming for hours on end to pounding down coffee before an exam, students have tried every strategy to get to their ideal GPA. However, there are tried-and-tested mind hacks out there that you can adopt to truly step up your game.


Ditch rote learning

Raise of hands, how many of you have practiced memorising solutions for big exams? Ditch it. Because the key to topping a class is by fully understanding concepts to enable you to retain knowledge and transfer this knowledge to new problems and scenarios. This is what’s known as Meaningful Learning. Everything stems from a key concept; from a blockbuster suspense flick to scientific theories. So as Elon Musk says, you’ll have to boil things down to their fundamental truths. Once you’ve grasped the basics, it makes for a solid foundation for you to build upon.


Practice makes perfect

Always practise new concepts everywhere you go. Let’s say you’ve learnt about sponsorship marketing in school. Start by mentally spotting examples of sponsorships through digital media, on branded merchandise or during public events. Analyse what you’ve observed: what would you have done differently and what really works — and why. This helps you remember what you’ve learnt faster as these real-world visual or audio aids can make learning more meaningful and effective. Better yet, apply for an internship position where you can put it to practice in a real-world setting.


Sleep on it

Another mistake that students might make is staying up late cramming information in for hours on end. However, never underestimate the benefits of a power nap. Did you know that power naps can help your memory, perceptual learning and statistical learning? Well, research has also found that power naps can offer a quick boost in alertness and performance as well! Take a quick 10 to 20-minute nap after studying for a couple of hours and you’ll soon find out that you are able to retain a lot more information from what you’ve revised.


Get organised

Did you know you could organise information in your brain just like how a department store categorises its merchandise for easy navigation? Instead of overwhelming the brain with masses of material, break your notes down into chunks of concepts that you can then commit to learning and retaining. Or create stories out of concepts with a beginning, middle and end. This helps organise information for easy mental digestion.


Graphic content

When studying, draw a quick doodle in the margin of your notes to represent each point. Our mind naturally remembers pictures better than words and during exams, those little doodles could come in extremely handy. Also, textbooks are often organised under topics, headings and subheadings. That is a generic method for conveying information in a book, but that’s not how the mind naturally works. Re-organise content into mind maps or any other way you like in your own notes to help decipher information for you to remember better.


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