Reading guide
Make It Stick:
The Science of Successful Learning

Reading questions

1 Learning Is Misunderstood

What is learning? (2)

What are three immutable aspects of learning? (2)

Name at least three learning principles that are claimed in Make It Stick (e.g. the ones that surprised you the most). (3-7)
What are three common learning myths? (9)

What are three downsides of rereading? (10)

What do you need to do to benefit from rereading? (14-15)
Instead of rereading, what could you do to learn? (16)

Why does repeated mere exposure to material lead to a false sense of knowing? (17)

What are two benefits of testing as a learning tool? (20)

2 To Learn, Retrieve

Why is reflection a form of practice? (27)

How can reflection make what you learn a reflex? (27)

What is the testing effect and when is it most effective? (28)

How much more could you potentially remember if you tested yourself after reading? (29)

How does crammed studying compare to retrieval practice in effectiveness? (31)

What role does spacing out practice (in time) play? (31-32)

What effect did repeated testing have in a classroom experiment? (35)

What was the effect of rereading? (35)

How does feedback affect learning? (39)

What's the effect of delayed feedback, especially when learning motor skills? (40)

When does retrieval practice seem to be most effective? (41)
How can testing affect motivation to learn? (42)
What's the takeaway from research on retrieval practice/testing and feedback? (43-44)

3 Mix Up Your Practice

What is massed practice? (47)

Why should you space out your practice? (47-48)

Why does spaced practice work better than massed practice?
What is interleaving and how would you learn a skill/topic that consists of multiple components? (49-50)

Why isn't interleaving a popular method? (50)

What is varied practice and why is it effective? (51)
What are discrimination skills and why are they important? (53)

What did experiment with recognizing paintings and birds show about the effectiveness of discrimination? (54-55)

What kind of retrieval practice is most effective? (57)

How could you incorporate reflection in your learning process? (59)

How should you approach the fundamentals of a skill? (61)
What are your takeaways from the chapter? (63-66)

Why should you avoid cramming? (63)

How much should you space out practice? (63)

Why should you practice what is familiar? (64)

What are interleaving and variation and how do they help learning? (65)

4 Embrace Difficulties

What are desirable difficulties? (68)
Why is testing crucial in learning? (72)
What are the three stages in learning? (72-76)

What happens during encoding and what's an analogy for it? (72)

What happens during consolidation and what's an analogy for it? (73)

Why do you need cues to remember what you learned? (75)

When is what you learn more likely to stick? (76)

What determines how well you remember certain knowledge? (77)

Why is forgetting necessary to learn some skills? (77)

When you forget knowledge, what actually happened? (78)

What's the paradox of desirable difficulties? (79 & 82)
Name at least three ways effort helps learning (82-86)
What is generation and how does it help learning? (87-88)
What is reflection and what questions can you ask? (88-89)
Why is errorless learning a myth and why is it a detrimental belief? (90-91)
When are difficulties undesirable? (98-99)
What are your key takeaways from the chapter? (100-101)

5 Avoid Illusions of Knowing

Why do we make errors in judgment? (104)
What are the two systems of knowing? (105)

What is system 1? (105)

What is system 2 and how does it help us? (105)

What does it mean we have a hunger of narrative, and how does that affect memory? (109-111)

How can memory get distorted? (112)

What is imagination inflation? (113)

What is suggestion and how does it affect memory? (113-114)

What is (memory) interference? (114-115)

What is the curse of knowledge? (115-116)

How can the feeling of knowing affect you? (116)

What are fluency illusions and when do they happen? (116)

How can social influence affect memory? (116-117)

What are mental models? (118)
What's the Dunning-Kruger effect and what's an antidote for it? (121 & 124)
What are ways to calibrate your judgment of your own performance? (125-130)

6 Get Beyond Learning Styles

How does belief affect your abilities? (139-140)
Why do difficulties like dyslexia don't have to impede learning? (141-143)
What's a common belief about learning styles, but what do studies show? (145-146)
What are the three parts of successful intelligence, but why can't you say one is better than the other? (150)
What's dynamic testing and what are its three steps? (151-152)
What is structure building? (153)

What do high-structure builders do? (153)

Why are rule-learners more successful than example-learners? (156-157)
What are your takeaways from the chapter? (159-161)

7 Increase Your Abilities

How has research shown our brains are changeable? (166-173)

How does the brain change when something becomes a habit? (171)

What is neurogenesis and how does it play a role in learning? (172)

What's the Flynn effect and what are possible explanations for it? (173-176)
What is fluid intelligence? (176)

Why does "brain training" not necessarily improve fluid intelligence? (177-178)

What's the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset?

How has having a growth mindset proven useful in learning? (180-183)

What's deliberate practice and how is it different from normal practice? (183)

Why does expert performance have more to do with practice than with talent? (185)

What's a memory palace and what's an explanation for its effectiveness? (185-186)

What's the main use of a memory palace? (194)

What's needed to make mnemonics effective? (197)

What are your main takeaways from the chapter? (199)

8 Make It Stick

What are the three keystone study strategies for students? (201-207)

What's retrieval practice and how do you do it? (201-203)

What's spaced practice and how do you do it? (203-205)

What's interleaved practice and how do you do it? (205-207)

What are other study strategies you'd like to use? (207-211)
How did Michael Young go from the bottom to the top of his class in medical school—within one year? (213-215)
How are learning and writing much alike? (221-222)
As a teacher, what basic strategies should you teach to make your students better learners? (225-226)

How can teachers create desirable difficulties in the classroom? (226-228)

How could teachers model biology professor Mary Pat Wenderoth in introducing desirable difficulties in the classroom? (228-234)

What's the Thayer method and how can teachers apply it in their classroom? (234-236)

What could you do to retain more from (mandatory) training to renew professional licenses? (239)
How can companies cultivate a culture of learning and what is the potential result of it? (247-250)
What's the difference between learning and education? (252-253)