15-minute Study Hack Improves B+ Students and Made them As


It was a long time ago that studying has been yearned to be improved by a lot; researchers, teachers, policy makers, even parents.  Programs have been changing now and then, curricula has been re-engineered and redesigned,and parents persuade their children to go to school more.


Credits to the photo’s owner.  Taken from here.

A different approach done by Patricia Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford with a PhD changed the way students study for tests and exams.  “All too often, students just jump mindlessly into studying before they have even strategized what to use, without understanding why they are using each resource, and without planning out how they would use the resource to learn effectively,” said Chen.  “I find this very unfortunate because it undermines their own potential to learn well and perform well,” she adds.

This one-of-a-kind solution solution researchers found helped kids to perform better and it got them to think about how they think—metacognition—and have them plan or simulate how they study.

In the study guided by Chen, researchers conducted two experiments where half of selected university students were given a number of prompts to think about how they have studied and how they could have studied more effectively.  The other half – which was the variable group – just received a reminder that they have to study for an upcoming assessment – that they have to prepare.

Those who were on the first group, who was assessed on how they wanted to perform and what they needed to do to perform better outperformed those who did not, by an average of one-third of a letter grade. Those who received the intervention prompts twice did better than those who received it once.

Study Habit


How did it work?

With this sample, it is evident that metacognition and self-regulation are aces to learning effectively. The roadblock of this situation is to how they can teach this and let it be absorbed by students.

So this is how it occurred: About 10 days before an exam, half of the class received a 15-minute session asking them the following:

  • What grade do they want in the upcoming exam
  • How they perceive the exam to be; how they think it would look like (the questions it may have)
  • How important the exam is for them and the estimation on how much they would get the grade they want

In addition to the mentioned session, they were also asked which of the fifteen (15) available knowledge resources would they use and these include:

  1. Textbook readings
  2. Lecture notes
  3. Instructor
  4. Practice exam questions
  5. Private tutoring
  6. Group studies (discussions)

They were asked to list it down together with the reason why they wanted to use them and how these can be effective for their study.

The other half however, only received a reminder that an assessment would be held the week after.

Researchers of this study made it clear that there were neither intellectual advancements nor GPA differences of their levels.

The Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) stated that metacognition is one of the two most effective educational practices that could drive up grades – feedback is the other.  Students who were involved in sessions asked about how they would think they would study improved their learning by an average of 8 months’ worth of academic progress.

This research feels like it is kind of subjective but no, setting goals for yourself and thinking about it, but not too much can really skyrocket your learning process.  The problem with educators is that they find it difficult to inculcate this practice into the natural learning phase of students.

“They can model this strategic thought process by voicing out the way they are thinking through their resource use, or they can pose questions that nudge children to exercise this strategic thinking for themselves.” The specific questions she suggested: “What you are doing doesn’t seem to be working very well. Is there something else you can use that would help you do it better?” or “Look at the way they are doing things. Do you think they could have gone about it in a better way?”

With the experience that we have, it is quite obvious that planning and strategizing about something can really make the difference rather than cramming and preparing inappropriately.  In our lives as adults, we know this fact very well and it is no different than achieving a good grade in school for students.


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