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11 Most Effective Cognitive Skills To Speed Up Learning

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This is a writeup of a recent article by Randy Patel in EMINETRA entitled “11 Most Effective Cognitive Skills To Speed Up Learning”.

If you want to empower yourself as a person, learn how things are done the right way and master them. This will hugely contribute to empowering you as a person to be competitive in ideas where you are hoping to excel.   When it comes to grasping information and understanding it, however, we often have trouble following what we are trying to learn, get distracted, and even have a pretty hard time wrapping our heads around some topics.

Sometimes, it feels as though what we are trying to pursue was not meant for us because it is just simply tough to figure it out. To remedy that, there are different cognitive skills we can work on in our lives that can help us become better learners, and, if we take our time to better ourselves in these areas, we can have a fairly easier time soaking in information and applying it in the right places.

You are encouraged to consider 11 most effective cognitive skills that will lead you to a better and more rewarding learning experience for the rest of your life.  These cognitive skills will enable you to  learn new things faster and understand them well.

Following are the cognitive skills you should try to focus on to help make it easy for you to learn new things faster and get to understand them well.  This is an awesome collection of skills that, once mastered, will certainly make your life easier!

1.       Selective Attention

This is a cognitive skill that allows you to direct your attention on a specific task that is important at a given time and fade out the other distractions that you might be tempted to engage in.  You will remain focused on the reason you are in that environment and pursue the tasks that took you there in the first place.

There are 2 types of selective attention: selective visual attention and selective auditory attention.

To improve your selective attention, make an effort to do focused-attention meditation, go to fairly noisy places, and try to focus on some chosen object or sound for a long period of time. Do this often and increase the difficulty (get comfortable within a certain limit).  In time, you will be able to sharpen your attention.


2.       Sustained Attention

Sustained attention, also referred to as vigilant attention, is a cognitive skill that helps you stick to one project and keep working at it until you complete it.

For instance, if you decide to read a book that you have been wanting to read, stick to that book every day until you finish reading it before switching to another book.  Take time to identify the things you have learned in detail.

Listening to audiobooks and watching videos of what you are learning also helps. Try following periods of interesting activities with periods of learning – it will give a positive kick to your attention.


3.       Divided Attention

While focusing attention on one thing is good, the contrary is also useful. Divided attention is keeping your attention on more than one project or task at the same time. This might appear to be counterproductive but it is actually not.

Here is an example of divided attention: There are times you find yourself in a place where you are about to complete one chapter, but you also have to start working on the next chapter while also having to keep in mind the first chapter that you started.  Finalizing on one thing while getting ready and planning for another one is common, and having divided attention in such cases can be helpful.

Divided attention, also called multitasking, requires the active use short term memory.   It is important to aim to store information in the long-term memory through constant repetition.


4.       Logic and Reasoning

Logic and reasoning are cognitive skills that pave the way for problem-solving skills and brainstorming ideas.  These help make your learning useful in the real world.

Most of what we learn is explained in the most straightforward way possible.  However, some aspects of it require you to think deeply about the information you are getting so that you can safely and effectively apply it where it belongs.

To get better at logic and reasoning, try various techniques including creating conclusions to various scenarios and then watching how they unfold, playing brain games such as chess and figuring out the patterns of different activities in which you are involved.


5.       Processing Speed

Processing speed is a cognitive skill that has to do with your ability to interpret what you learn, causing you to have an easy time applying it in the right place to get the kind of results you are looking for. With this skill, you can improve your rate of productivity in a day, therefore creating more time to do other things in your daily schedule.  For most people, this might appear to be far from reality, but some people are living this experience.

Having a great processing speed is possible, makes you a sharp person, and improves the quality of your life in the long term.

You can increase your information processing speed by ensuring that you are regularly involved in aerobic exercise, are constantly pushing your mind to understand things quicker by reading and interpreting information faster than you usually do, and are eating healthy foods.

6.       Visual Processing

Visual processing is a cognitive skill related to processing speed but only focused on visuals. This skill comes in handy when you are trying to comprehend visual data, such as images, tables, and graphs.

The more you use visually represented data, the better you get at identifying the patterns used in this type of data, and the easier it is for you to decode new data presented that way in the future.


7.       Auditory Processing

This type of processing deals with sound-based information such as audiobooks.  This is an age where advanced technology is being used in almost all industries including education. Instead of having to spend a couple of days or weeks reading a coursebook, you can just listen to an audiobook of the same and learn in that way.

If you are good at analyzing and make sense of the sound, relating it to what you are learning, you’ll have a much smoother time reading and advancing your studies.  Again, the more you listen to audios, the better your audio processing skills get.


8.      Working Memory

The working memory is where you store recently acquired information. If you read a manual on a device that you intend to use immediately, you are done reading and then go ahead and start using it without having to refer to the manual, your working memory is awesome.

Working memory promotes comprehension, problem-solving, reasoning, and planning in education.   If you have a good working memory, you can store in enough information in your mind about various items and their relations to each other.  At least, you can do it well enough to take on your current challenge and solve it successfully.

A good way to enhance working memory is by trying to flash words, numbers, cards, or even dots for a couple of seconds, figuring out what you saw after a few seconds, and then checking if you are correct.


9.    Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory is the retention of information that was acquired a long time ago. You are classified as a person with excellent long-term memory when you can retain and easily retrieve information about something you gained months or years ago.

Some of the well-known ways to take your long-term memory to the next level are through activities such as constant repetition (revisiting the information in your mind), visualizing what you have learned, and being super focused and attentive when learning something new.


10.    Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is the ability to reason, create, alter, and utilize information from your senses in real-time for various purposes including problem-solving. This type of intelligence allows you to think abstractly and reason flexibly.  Fluid intelligence is believed to decline in late adulthood, although it is trainable and you can always increase it at any point in your life if you choose to.

One of the ways you can improve your fluid intelligence is by enhancing your working memory, as they are closely linked to one another.

Click here to read “5 Ways to Improve Fluid Intelligence”, an article by Ideapod.


11.    Crystallized Intelligence

Crystallized intelligence can be perceived as the opposite of fluid intelligence.  This type of intelligence heavily relies on the past knowledge and experience that you have gained over the years. It is based on facts and knowledge, and you become stronger at it as you age since you gain more knowledge and experience as you progress in life.



These are the cognitive skills you should try to focus on.  They will help you to learn new things faster and get to understand them well.

Mastering these skills may require you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself just a little every day so that you can improve your mind power. However, you can do that!  That’s the good thing!   You are more than capable of mastering these skills and, as a result, get better in your life.  Starting small is the key. Take on one skill at a time. Invest your time in sharpening it and constantly applying it. Before long, you will be amazed at how far you have come.


We hope you have enjoyed this writeup and that you will want to try these “11 Most Effective Cognitive Skills To Speed Up Learning”.  Please write to us and let us know if these Skills made a difference in your life.


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