Lastly, my number one method for studying for the NET, also known as the Feynman method, is to teach other people.
Just like some of the other tips I’ve mentioned before, this is an active learning technique that focuses on practicing your retrieval of information. It helps you identify what you don’t know because the other person will be asking questions. It also prompts you to organize the information you’ve studied into a lesson structure.
Most of all, it’s the best test of whether you fully comprehend the deep concepts of a topic, because you have to truly understand the key ideas to be able to teach another person.
It’s best to teach an actual person, since they can ask you questions back, but if you don’t anyone available, you can always make a fake lesson and teach it to your wall!
However, whether you teach it to another person or to the infinite void, the best technique for organizing your ideas and thoughts, in a way that boosts both your own learning and the clarity of your lecture, is the Feynman technique.
What is the Feynman technique?
The Feynman technique is named after Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize-winning physicist who is considered one of the most groundbreaking intellectuals in the field ever.
Among other accolades he was known as ‘the great explainer’ because of his ability to synthesize and explain complex scientific concepts. He strongly believed that if you can’t teach the fundamental ideas of any topic (even complex ones) in a page, in a way a non-insider in the field can understand, it means that you don’t really comprehend it yourself.
It’s method of learning difficult concepts in a way that helps you retain them for a long time. We can break it down into four steps:
- Write the concept name as your heading. It will keep you focused on the topic at hand, rather than wandering off into explaining other, related topics that come up, which should get their own summaries.
- Explain the concept as if you’re talking to good friend who is the same age as you but in a different field of study. This is the key step, and the crux of the whole technique.
- As you work on explaining the concept, you will naturally identify problem areas, areas that you’re having difficulty explaining in simple terms. Use this as a guide to go back to your textbook or lecture materials to fill in the gaps in your understanding.
- Go back and identify any complex or advanced terms that you’ve used in your explanation, and try to simplify even further. This gets at the root of your knowledge, and it’s often surprising how much material we’ve ignored, and where our knowledge is weak without us knowing.
Fill in these gaps! A good house needs a strong foundation – when your fundamentals are weak, every subsequent fact that builds upon it will be shaky until you correct that underlying weakness.