Make It Stick Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Make It Stick explores ways to memorize faster and make learning easier, all while debunking myths and common misconceptions about learning being difficult and attributed to those who have highly native cognitive skills, with the help of researchers who’ve studied the science of memory their entire life.

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Make It Stick Summary

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Learning is something we all must practice every day. Going through life, we get to learn new things every day. Simply because this is what it takes to survive and grow. Change is constant. Whether you think that you can learn more and become better, or that your power is limited and you can’t achieve what you want. Therefore, you must train your mind to adopt a winning mentality and help you become the best version of yourself.

Learning and absorbing information rapidly is what will get you closer to your goals. It also shows that accomplishing whatever you want is possible. Even though your endeavors so far show that studying and retaining information is difficult, that won’t be the case anymore! Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown will make you forget about all the inconveniences that keep you from being your best self.

Let’s explore my favorite three lessons from the book:

  1. The most common learning practices are, in fact, the most ineffective ones.  
  2. The retrieval-practice effect, or the testing effect, is one sure way to achieve mastery in a domain. 
  3. When you’ll be able to explain a complex topic in simple words, you’ll be fully mastering the topic.

Let’s go on and explore these interesting lessons in detail to reveal the key takeaways of the summary!

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Lesson 1: Ditch the traditional studying practices and adopt the right habits of successful learning.

Growing up, we were taught that studying implies repeating the same notion countless times till you get it right. Or that doing the same type of mental exercise will ultimately lead to mastering the subject. However, this approach to studying has proved to be counterproductive and ineffective. In fact, studying by repeating continuously will even fade away in a short period of time. 

Repeating will make you feel familiar with the subject and leave you feeling good about yourself while doing it. However, it will give you a false sense of mastery. In fact, you’ll end up having fluency in the domain. And that means that you get what it’s about at that moment. However, you’ll forget the basics quickly and lose control over the knowledge gained. 

So what’s the alternative? Isn’t this what we were taught to do growing up? Truth be told, the people who thought about these practices didn’t know better at the time. But luckily, modern studies have got the answer! It seems that by adopting practices like “spaced repetition”, “the testing effect”, elaboration, or tying the information to memories, you too can tap into the secrets of successful learning.

Lesson 2: Practice retrieval to gain full mastery of a subject.

So far we’ve discussed the downsides of repetitive studying. By re-reading and highlighting fragments of your lecture, you’re only subjecting your brain to an increased effort that doesn’t pay off. However, adding a simple, yet effective twist to this practice can change its outcome considerably. Next time you’re struggling to retain something, try repeating paragraphs or bits of information in spaced-out sessions.

For example, if you read something and worked on memorizing it for quite some time, give yourself a 10-minute break before repeating it, so that your brain consolidates the information. Instead of doing mindless recitation, think actively about the information you read and try to apprehend it in a way that makes sense to you. You can do so by linking it to something that you already know so that you remember it easier.

To just read material and hope it will stick to you is a complete waste of time. To practice retrieval implies giving yourself time to consolidate the information, but that’s not all! Once you close the book, it’s time to ask yourself what you remember. What were the key points of your lecture? And other important aspects you might want to consider. 

Doing so will activate your brain and make it look for information in your memory. However, going back to the top and re-reading it will keep your mind inactive. And it won’t help you much when it comes to mastering the subject. If you want, you could try this exercise right now! Without reading everything from the top, try to remember the key aspects of this summary and what you’ve learned so far.

Lesson 3: Elaborating on a topic and explaining it in simple words will make you understand it better.

Elaborating on a topic can help you reveal some aspects that remained hidden until that point. Thus, making you gain a deeper understanding of that subject. When you get to talk about what you’ve read and studied, your brain is actively looking for ways to make sense of the information, which in turn will make you remember it more easily.

Therefore, it’s considered that if you can’t explain a topic in a way that even a 5-year-old kid would understand, it means that you don’t fully understand it yourself. To be able to simplify a subject to such an extent implies having a high level of mastery in that domain. That is why teachers seem to know certain subjects so well – because they repeat it to people numerous times and in different ways.

Another way to make information stick is by linking it to already existing information in your brain. Currently, researchers found that there is no limit to what you can learn when you associate something new with an older memory. Therefore, by elaborating information in a simple manner, repeating it in spaced intervals, and connecting it to already existing recollections, you can make sure that you’ll achieve full mastery in a domain and become a successful learner.

Make It Stick Review

If you’ve ever found yourself studying restlessly, but not retaining information, Make It Stick is the right book for you. Not only will this book reveal why the traditional studying methods we’ve been taught all along are wrong, but it will offer a series of valuable practices that can help anyone retain more information for a prolonged period of time. If you want to find out how to learn successfully and become more knowledgeable in any domain, make sure to give this book a read.

Who would I recommend the Make It Stick summary to?

The 20-year-old college student who finds it hard to study for their exams, the 26-year-old person who’s taking a course while being a full-time employee and wants to make the most out of their time when studying, or the 40-year-old person who wants to learn new things to advance in their career.

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.