By Mary Slaughter & 

Remember being in middle school and preparing for an exam? Chances are you spent your study time paging through your class notes or rereading the textbook. Maybe you highlighted important details as you went.

We now know this is a pretty terrible way to study. You might’ve felt like you were absorbing the information, but you probably forgot most of it a few weeks after the test. In cases like these, you’re falling for what psychologists call “fluency”–you have a grasp of the information while you’re looking at it on the page. It feels good, easy, and reassuring. But that fluency doesn’t translate to actually recalling what you learned later on, let alone any change in skills or behavior.

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