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Your learning and recall environment

Not only does how we study influence our ability to learn, so does where we study. The environment where learning and recall take place is called context. Your mental state, such as your mood, also contributes to context. It is believed that you can recall better in the same context that you learned in. This can be the result of contextual cues and associations.

While the context effect is not the most important when it comes to studying, you can use it to supplement your other study skills.

Using context

There are several ways that you can use your understanding of context to help you in both learning material as well as recalling it.

  1. Learn material where you will need to recall it later. For example, study in your test room or practice your speech in the auditorium you will give it.
  2. If it is not possible to learn in the place you will need to recall it later, then practice in a similar setting
  3. When you are trying to recall the information you have learned, try and recall the context you studied in (i.e. when writing a test recall the room you studied in).
  4. By studying and practicing in several different contexts you can make the material less context bound. This will also contribute to your over learning of the material by repetition.

Study environment

Context can also be used to help encourage you to study. Either create or identify a place where you will always study. Once you have identified a place, only use it to study — no games, food, or other distractions. This place will become identified with studying and entering it should put you into a studying mindset.

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