How To Prepare For Tests and Exams: The Feynman Technique
Spending 6 continuous hours studying for CAIE’s is really not the best way to prepare for your exams. If you struggle to understand a topic or perform in a test, try using the Feynman Technique, a technique developed by theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman who won the 1965 Noble Prize in Physics.
Richard Feynman was known for his great discovery in Quantum Electrodynamics. But he was also very well known for his excellent teaching skills. Feynman is considered one of the best teachers this world has seen.
BillGates once called Feynman “The Greatest Teacher I never had”, and was so fond of his teaching style that he purchased the rights of Feynman’s lectures and made them available to the public for free through a platform called “Project Tuva.”
The Feynman Technique for studying was derived from his style of study when he was a student at Princeton. It’s a mental model to convey information, teach and better understand the concepts.
How to Apply The Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique can be divided into 4 simple steps that can help you understand any difficult topic in and out, we’ll be adding a few modifications in the end so that it fits for a CAIE student like you!
IDENTIFY THE SUBJECT
The first step is to get an idea of the topic. Go through your notes, read them, try to understand what they’re saying.
Grab a paper and pen and jot down the things you’ve learned, so that includes definitions, formulas, do however make sure you understand them.
In many cases students, including me, just can’t understand through the notes they have, or their notes are not enough… In that case, you can refer to CAIEMASTER for resources and notes of all sorts that are by great teachers.
If you are unable to understand through just the notes, we’d highly suggest checking our recorded lectures. If you are unable to find them on our website, search them on YouTube, and you’ll definitely come across a great teacher trying to explain the topic. I personally prepared for my AS Maths completely through YouTube.
The best approach however is to attentively listen to your teacher and grasp as much of the concept through them, and if you don’t understand something, ASK THEM, don’t be afraid to ask, it’s their job to answer you… No matter how they reply. We understand some teachers don’t encourage asking questions but don’t hold back, fire them away with questions that come to your mind, don’t hesitate and be steadfast, keep asking!
But even then, if you need any help, we’re always there for you
TEACH IT TO A CHILD
Once you think that you’ve grasped the concept well enough, the next step is to teach it to someone. This is the main step to which most students don’t get to.
Most CAIE students just jump to mindlessly solving past-papers! This is an extremely bad approach, sure it might help you pass the next test, but you’ll never be a student of the top tier!
If you follow these steps, you’ll be confident before sitting in an exam, and you’ll have great command on your concepts.
The second step is simple, just teach what you know to someone! This could be a friend of yours, your sibling, your parents, heck it could even be your 6-year-old sibling! If you don’t have someone, explain it to yourself or a toy. But do make sure, to be honest with yourself and start from the beginning as if they don’t know anything from before.
The art is to explain the concept in such a way so that a child can understand it, and if you’re able to explain it to a child, you’re already ahead of the game!
While applying this step, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, speaking in plain terms. Children don’t understand complex vocabulary – something which science is filled with. So a graphical representation of things will help immensely! It’s one of the most effective ways to teach, through diagrams!
Secondly, you need to deliver your concept in such a way that it’s interesting. Otherwise, your students will lose interest! So you need to ensure that you’re not elongating it too much so that it’s boring.
Be the teacher you always wished you had!
The power and effectiveness of this learning method reside in the ability to simply explain things. Although Feynman studied complex processes, he had the ability to explain them simply enough that even 12-year-olds could understand him and that’s why he was known as the “The Great Explainer.”
Now that you’ve completed your teaching session, it’s time that you analyze yourself, the step in which the real learning happens!
Review your explanation and identify the areas where you didn’t know something or where you felt your explanation was not as good. Ask yourself these questions: What Don’t you know, What are you missing?
Keep in mind, it’s essential, to Be Honest With Yourself.
Highlight your weaknesses, places where you lack, and then note them down! Doing so will help you solidify your concepts and cover your weak points.
Once you’ve noted down your weak points, fix them! Reach out to your teacher, to your friends, to groups, Quora, Yahoo Answers, Stackoverflow, or any other place to eliminate your weaknesses and be confident on it! You can also join CAIEMASTER’s Facebook Group or WhatsApp groups that have hundreds of students available to help!
Organize, Simplify and Tell A Story!
Once you’ve perfected your concepts and completed the above 3 steps, it’s time that you become a legend!
Re-organize your notes and note down everything that you realized during your journey. This time, simplify your notes so that they’re easier to understand.
Once you’ve reorganized your notes, turn them into a story! How so? Convey your concepts in such a manner that the subject doesn’t sound boring to anyone you teach. Imagine yourself preparing a lecture for a class of students who are done with the subject! Explain it to them in such a manner that they feel like they could’ve practically discovered the topic themselves.
Pretend to tell the story. That way you’ll hear where language stops being simple. Stumbles could indicate incomplete thoughts. Use analogies and simple sentences to strengthen your understanding of the story.
And then repeat the steps till you have a clear understanding of the topic.
And that’s it!
That’s the Feynman technique for you. This technique without a doubt is time taking, but it’s worth it! Once you’ve grasped the concept through the Feynman technique, you won’t need to worry about it!
As a CAIE student, your 5th step would be to move on to solving past-papers. We don’t recommend going on a rampage and solving all the past-papers out there. What we suggest is to solve enough that you know how to apply your skills!
One of the best ways to do that is to offer your friends help. Offer help to your friends in solving the most difficult questions they can come across!
We hope that this guide helped you. If you’re looking for any sorts of help, you can reach out to us by the contact form on CAIEMASTER.COM
For resources and notes, visit our website.