At the end of this blog post I will give you a time table that – if you keep to it – you most certainly will pass any course, and have a high chance of acing any course in the science and engineering fields. It will work best with courses that use the lecture-assignment-exam form.

Acknowledgement; I’d like to acknowledge the youtuber Ali Abdaal

First we need to cover some core concepts that are important for you to understand. These are some concepts that you need to understand before you attempt using the timetable. By being aware of these concepts you will be able to make effective use of the proposed time table.

• Active recall
• Spatial Repetition - Forgetting Curve
• Solve the Busy Bangwagen and the infinity pool
• Cornell Note taking System
• Build healthy study habits (small time intervals, with breaks)

# Active recall

This is the principle that you need to continuously test yourself to be able to recall some information. The simple principle of use-it or lose-it.

# Spatial Repetition

This is the principle of spacing out the repetitions because of the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve describes how we lose our abilities over time. No matter how well we know the subject our memory will decay over time, see the equation below.

$$R=\frac{e^{-t}}{s}~~~~~~~~ \mathrm{(1)}$$

Where $R$ is the recall of the memory, $t$ is the time, and $s$ is the strength of the memory. As we practice the $s$ becomes larger and our recollection diminishes less over time.

We improve $s$ by spatial repetition of active recall, and other things like sleeping well, exercising, eating well, reducing stress, and not over drinking.

# Solve the Busy Bandwagen

This is something we all struggle with in our society. It’s important to very busy all the time. This is fallacy that we all fall into, and it actually prevents us from doing the things that important to us. Make sure to highlight only on a couple of things a day and laser focus on those activities to get those done. And, don’t worry when you are tired, take rest, sometimes you need time to recharge

# Solve the infinity pools

Infinity pools are the endless scrolling applications and websites out there. You know – the facebook’s, instagram’s, reddit, twitter’s, cnn, newsfeeds, etc. These sites are endless time pits that are never ending. If you think about the time you have spent on these sites and how you could have used that time – where would you be now? Sure these sites are a great way to connect and entertain yourself, but beware, all time will get lost.

I think of them as creations of hell that I had to deal with growing up. I lost the most precious commodities I had; time and attention. Use the sites wisely, to connect with friends, be aware what is going on in society, and find resources and information. However, if you find yourself in the pit, recognize this, and exit accordingly. If you find it difficult to exit, set a timer for five minutes in which you refrain from using the application and stare out of the window.

# Cornell Note taking system

This is a note taking system that facilitates active recall. Instead of just highlighting and copying knowledge from the slides, you create questions within your notes, with the answers. This allows you when you come back to your notes to test yourself.

The resistance $R$ is given by the conduction coefficient $k$ and thickness of the wall $\tau$

$$R=\frac{\tau}{k}$$

### Questions

What equation gives the resistance?

During the lecture you will write the notes on the left side, leaving space on the right side. Then you add the questions later. To test yourself, you can cover up the left side. There is quite some effort that will go into this, but it will make easy for you to go the notes and test yourself.

# Building healthy study habits

Habits are much stronger than discipline. Create an environment that you can return to and do your work with little to no distractions. And build it into your life such that it becomes a habit.

It is important to build healthy studying habits that allow you to keep going. This means resting every so often while working. You don’t go on a four hour hike without taking a little break, so why do we spend four hours at a time reading. The Pomodoro technique is really awesome for this. Set a timer for 25-35 min of intense work, then take a 10 min break.

Lastly, you need to stay healthy while on your educational journey. Things you can do to improve your brain health are:

• Sleeping well
• Eating well
• Regular high intensity workouts
• or lots of low intensity workouts
• Not drinking too much
• making good choices.

# The schedule

Now for the schedule, It is built around a lecture and learning the materials covered in said lecture. Do this for every lecture, hold to it, success is guaranteed

• lecture based time table (hours in lecture x2 are the hours spend developing the memory)
1. Day before; Pre-read materials + assignments (30 min and 2 hours)
• Aim to understand between 50-70% of the material.
2. Day itself; lecture (45 min and 3 hours)
• Sit in on the lecture, take your standard notes (leave space on the right hand side)
• Aim to understand between 70-100% of the material.
3. Day after; Reformat notes → Develop your Cornell Note taking system (30min - 2 hours) and try the assignment (2 hours)
• Aim to understand between 80-100% of the material
4. Second Day after; Test Notes (30 min) + assignment (1-2 hours)
• Aim to understand between 90-100% of the material
5. Week after; Test Notes (30 min) + finish assignment (1-2 hours)
• Aim to understand between 90-100% of the material
6. Month later; Test Notes (30 min)
• Aim to understand between 90-100% of the material

# Why it works?

It combines active recall, spatial repetition, and is built to work with a busy schedule. Even if you take four courses you won’t find yourself working more than eight hours a day, and if you plan things well, you can also take the weekends off.

Built to reduce stress, the schedule looks ridged, but it’s flexible in its execution. You can see each step there is a percentage range of the material you need to understand, the time spent can vary quite a lot. You can see that the first day, it’s a light day. Just skim the material and make sure you understand about half or more of what you read. Make sure you check the greek/latin symbols, specific terms and images/diagram that might be difficult to understand quickly in lecture.

The lecture is the first time you might be able to understand everything 100% — but fear not — the subsequent days you get work on the material more, to get to 100%. It is only on the second day after lecture that I suggest you try to get to 100%. At this point, your brain has seen the material a couple of times and it should be primed and ready to understand what is going on. A week later, usually the assignment due date, is where you will start to put the knowledge in your long term memory and be confident that you understand the material.

You may skip the second day after lecture, sometimes you will understand everything 100% after lecture, or when you do your first pass of the material, this is great. Make sure you do the day after lecture; converting your notes into the Cornell Note taking system.

If you can, stick to it, you will see that if you understand everything it might just take you 10-20 mins to review your notes. That little jolt will help you in the long term, and what is 20 mins in 24 hours?

My suggestion is don’t skip any days, and especially the week and the month after lecture is crucial, because here the subject gets into that long term memory.

But — you don’t stay at 100%!?!

Perfection is the enemy of good - Voltaire, 1770

Good luck studying! 😄