Learning color theory is a great way to improve your artistic skill and know-how – but only if your hard-won knowledge doesn’t desert you when you’re at your easel. It’s pointless learning new skills, concepts and procedures if you’re unable to retrieve them quickly and efficiently. There are two methods you can use to improve your retrieval rate. But be careful! One of them is far more effective than the other. The first is review: going back over the materials you’ve just studied. The second is recall: trying to recall facts and concepts from memory. A 2011 study from Purdue University shows recall is far more effective for long-term learning retention, yet most learners opt for review strategies over recall strategies when trying to consolidate their learnings. There’s a reason we prefer review over recall and it all comes down to a concept called judgment of learning. Essentially, when we’re able to process or understand a concept without difficulty, we judge that we’ve learned that concept. Reading back over something we’ve already learned creates the impression that we’ve grasped this new information. That’s why we gravitate towards passive review strategies: they confirm our perception that we’re learning successfully. But perception isn’t everything. Struggling to recall something in the short term means you’re far more likely to remember it in the long term. Experts call this desirable difficulty – the difficulty posed by recall is ultimately desirable, as it maximizes our chances of retaining what we’ve learned. Here are some fun ways to make your study sessions more recall-focused. The first is to test yourself on what you’ve learned using flash cards or, better yet, free recall: after a study session, sit down with a piece of blank paper. Challenge yourself to write down everything you can remember from what you’ve learned, in as much detail as possible. Another approach is to avoid making notes when reading – pose questions that force you to recall the answer. Instead of writing “The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066,” write “When did the Battle of Hastings take place?” Every time you go over your notes, you’ll be forced to recall what you’ve learned. Finally, for a more concrete recall-based challenge, set yourself a task that will test everything you’ve learned in your ultralearning project so far. The advantage to this approach is that you don’t need to waste time recalling general aspects of your subject that don’t apply directly to your intended learning project; rather, you’ll recall specific skills and concepts in a targeted way, as you need to use them. Nailed retrieval? Then it’s time to get on friendly terms with feedback.