20 Study Tips for Ranking 1st at Cambridge University

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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "How I Ranked 1st at Cambridge University - 20 Study Tips" by Ali Abdaal
TLDR The video provides tips and strategies for efficient studying, including using tree diagrams and color coding, effective note-taking, frequent testing and spaced repetition, interleaving topics, intentional flair in exam answers, and prioritizing balance and self-care.

Study Techniques

  • πŸ’‘
    Tip number one for studying is to scope the subject by creating a visual tree diagram to appreciate where concepts fit within the wider picture.
  • 🧠
    The more effortful it appears, the harder it seems to us, the more likely our brain is to form connections between relevant things and the more likely we are to actually know the topic.
  • πŸ§’
    Understanding a topic means being able to explain it to a 5-year-old, according to the Feynman technique.
  • πŸ“š
    The book "Make it Stick" provides scientific evidence that testing ourselves on information is crucial for effective learning and improving grades.
  • 🧠
    Spaced repetition interrupts the forgetting curve and can help with effective memorization.
  • πŸ’»
    Having a specific workspace and routine can greatly improve focus and productivity, as opposed to working in a distracting environment.

Exam Preparation

  • πŸ“š
    Focus on your weaknesses when studying for exams, not just what you're good at.
  • πŸ“
    Testing is the number one way to improve your score, so test yourself more often and more frequently to see improvement.
  • πŸ“
    The exam is not a test of knowledge, but a test of exam performance, so doing lots of mock exams is crucial for success.
  • 🀝
    Studying with friends who are motivated and vibe well with you can be beneficial for exam preparation.
  • πŸ’‘
    Studying with friends can be more effective when you test each other on the material, rather than just passively absorbing information from one another.


  • What is the importance of creating a tree diagram for studying?

    β€” Creating a tree diagram helps visually represent the subject and understand where facts and concepts fit into the bigger picture.

  • How can I target specific areas of revision when studying for exams?

    β€” You can use a color coding system to focus on your weaknesses and prioritize those areas for studying.

  • Is note-taking an effective study strategy?

    β€” Note-taking alone is not an effective way to learn, as the brain forms connections through effortful learning. There are other evidence-based methods that are more efficient.

  • What is the most effective technique for memorization?

    β€” Active recall, which involves testing oneself on the information, is the most effective technique for memorization.

  • How can I improve my exam performance?

    β€” To improve exam performance, it is important to practice with past papers and mock exams to learn the question style and technique of the examiners.

Timestamped Summary

  • πŸ“š
    Use a tree diagram and color coding to focus on weaknesses and improve strengths when studying for exams.
  • πŸ“š
    Taking effective notes and understanding concepts through effortful learning are key to efficient studying, while color coding and using the Feynman technique can help identify knowledge gaps.
  • 🧠
    Test yourself frequently and use spaced repetition to interrupt the forgetting curve for effective memorization.
  • πŸ“š
    Interleaving different topics in study sessions and practicing with mock exams can improve exam performance and retention.
  • πŸ’‘
    Add intentional flair to your exam answers to increase your chances of getting a higher mark.
  • πŸ“š
    Studying with friends can be helpful, but copying their work is not recommended - it's important to have a designated workspace and routine to balance work and relaxation.
  • πŸŽ“
    Prioritize balance and self-care as a student, enjoy the journey and don't defer happiness until after achieving goals.
  • πŸ’»
    Brilliant offers engaging online courses in maths, science, and computer science for effective learning and problem-solving skills.
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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "How I Ranked 1st at Cambridge University - 20 Study Tips" by Ali Abdaal
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