How To Remember 90% Of Anything You Have Learnt, Be It A Skill, Language Or Subject

Aug 21, 2019

Whether you’re learning a new instrument, skill, language, or sport, we've all wanted to speed up things up as much as possible. But then, there are only 24 hours in a day. And your human brain has only a certain degree of ability.

You simply cannot remember all the stats, facts, or actions overnight, because our brain is not designed to do this.

The key to accelerated learning is not the number of hours spent; instead, it relies more on increasing the efficiency of these hours. The analogy of water and bucket explains this beautifully.

The Analogy of Bucket and Water

Imagine that you have a bucket of water. Every time you try to fill it, 90% of the water leaks immediately, leaving only a meager 10% for you.

So, how many times would you want to continue filling the bucket?

Just ONCE! Here's why.

The first time you noticed a leak in the bucket, you acted. You can either repair the bucket or get a new one.

Unfortunately, that is not how we learn things. Most of us waste about 90% of our resources, energy and time because we refuse to understand a simple idea called the learning pyramid. 

The Learning Pyramid


Image Source- Wikipedia

Created in the 1960s, the learning pyramid is widely attributed to the Maine NTL Institute. The pyramid describes the different ways humans learn.

According to this pyramid,

  • 90% of the information is retained when the learner teaches the learning content to someone immediately.
  • 75% of the information is kept when the learner practices the things he has learned through a hands-on experience.
  • 50% of the data is retained if the learner participates in any group discussion related to the content.
  • 30% of the information is retained if the learner learns from any kind of demonstration.
  • 20% of the information is kept if the learner learns from audiovisual material.
  • 10% of the information is kept through self-reading.
  • A meager 5% of the information is retained from a lecture.

So, what does the pyramid suggest?

All non-interactive learning methods (classroom lectures, books, videos, etc.) ensure that 80-95% of the information goes through a ear and out from the other.

Participatory methods (such as teaching, gaining practical experience, group discussions, etc.), on the other hand, seem more productive and rightly so.

To sum up…

  • If you want to learn a new language, you need to focus more on conversing with native speakers rather than choosing the language from a video or mobile app.
  • If you want to improve your fitness, you should work with a physical trainer rather than watching health videos on YouTube.
  • If you want to learn a musical instrument, consult a tutor; not an online video.

Why do participatory learning techniques help you remember 90% of the content?

There is a good reason for that.

When you teach or gain practical experience, you make mistakes.

As soon as you encounter difficulties or encounter errors, you typically do your best to correct them. This involuntarily forces your brain to focus, thus, helping in accelerated learning.

But then you can say that you focus heavily on your presentation at school or even when you read. so why does it not work that way? 

Because, your brain seldom encounters any mistake.

What your brain sees or hears is nothing but an abstract concept. Even if you clearly define your steps, you have no chance of keeping all this information unless you are born with a photographic memory. It's because:

  • Your brain is stuck on the first concept / obstacle.
  • Your brain makes no mistake.
Article Posted in: LearnPick Updates

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