Cognitive Skills That Will Help You Learn Faster

Learning how to do things correctly and mastering them go a long way toward empowering yourself as a person and making you competitive in areas where you want to achieve.

However, when it comes to grasping and comprehending knowledge, we frequently struggle to keep track of what we’re attempting to learn, become distracted, and have a difficult time wrapping our heads around particular topics.

Sometimes it feels as if the goal we’re pursuing was not meant for us because it’s so difficult to find out.

As a result, there are various cognitive abilities we can improve in our lives to help us become better learners, and if we take the time to improve ourselves in these areas, we will have a much easier time soaking in information and applying it where we need it.

Here are the 11 most effective cognitive abilities for speeding up learning that you should consider using in the weeks, months, and years ahead for a better and more fulfilling learning experience.

1. Selective Attention

Selective attention is a cognitive ability that allows you to focus your attention on a single subject that is relevant at the time and fade out other distractions that may be attractive. [1]

Many things can grab your attention when you’re in a noisy atmosphere. Most of these activities may be entertaining, but they divert your attention away from the purpose you are in that area.

You can now stay focused on the reason you’re in that area and complete the tasks that brought you there by using selective attention.

For example, if you and a companion are in a restaurant in the center of town where there are cars honking, noises from other shop attendants in the shops next to the restaurant, drunk people arguing and fighting, and more, you will undoubtedly hear the majority of those noises.

However, the main reason you’re there is to have a discussion with a friend while you eat, and selective attention helps you focus on that job and keep it there until you’re through.

Selective attention can be divided into two categories: selective visual attention and selective aural attention.

Visual selective attention is essentially visual selective attention.

In the midst of so many other aesthetically appealing things, you can focus on the things that are most important to you.

Selective auditory attention is focused on your hearing senses and is a type of selective attention. If you and a friend are in a restaurant, you can shut out other noises and concentrate on what your friend is saying.

Working on developing selective attention can help you improve your learning abilities since it allows you to focus on your studies for longer periods of time without being distracted by other shiny and appealing things or sounds.[2]

To increase your selective attention, consider conducting focused attention meditation, going to somewhat noisy settings, and concentrating on a single object or sound for an extended length of time.

You may focus your attention by doing this frequently and gradually increasing the difficulty as you progress and become comfortable with a particular limit.

2. Sustained Attention

Sustained attention, also known as vigilant attention, is a cognitive talent that allows you to focus on a single task and work on it until it is completed. [3] [4] When it comes to your work or study, persistent attention makes you more of a long-term thinker.

If you decide to tackle a book you’ve been wanting to read on a topic you’re interested in, you commit to reading it every day until it’s finished, after which you can move on to another book.

Longer periods of focus where you focus on what you’re learning and then take time to identify the things you’ve learned in detail build more sustained attention.

For example, as you read, you can use another sheet of plain paper to jot down in detail what you’ve learned after roughly 30 minutes to an hour of concentrated attention.

And when you’ve finished reading the book, you make a list of everything you’ve learned from the first to the last chapter.

It also helps to listen to audiobooks and view extended videos of what you’re learning. Furthermore, alternating intervals of fascinating activities with long periods of learning provides your concentration a boost.

3. Divided Attention

While having your attention focused on one item is beneficial, the opposite is also true. The term “divided attention” refers to focusing your attention on multiple projects or tasks at the same time. This may appear to be unproductive, but it is not. [5]

Consider having different units in your educational institution or distinct chapters within a single unit. There are times when you are about to finish one chapter but also have to start the following chapter, or when you are about to finish the last page of one unit but also have to remember that you have another unit that you need to get started on right away.

It’s typical to finish one thing while preparing and planning for another and having divided attention in such situations can be beneficial so that even if you have two tests on two distinct units in the same day, you can retain information from both without struggling.

For some, divided attention, often known as multitasking, necessitates the active use of short-term memory.

[6] While this is true, it is also critical to strive to store knowledge in long-term memory through frequent repetition, as this aids with long-term memory retention.

Knowing what you’re intended to learn and how you’re supposed to learn goes a long way toward improving split attention.

4. Logic and Reasoning

Logic and reasoning are cognitive abilities that allow you to solve problems and create ideas, which will help you apply what you’ve learned in the actual world.

The majority of what we learn is described as simply as possible, but certain elements require you to think carefully about the knowledge you’re receiving and how it works in order to safely and successfully apply it in the places where it’s needed.[7]

For example, during exams and tests, the examiner wants you to use what you’ve learned to answer the issues on the test, and because the questions are twisted to assess your grasp of the subject, you might have to think outside the box to get it correctly. Logic and reasoning come to the rescue in this situation.

You may improve your logic and reasoning skills by forming conclusions to various scenarios and then monitoring how they develop to see whether you got it right, playing mental games like chess, and finding out the patterns of various activities you engage in.

5. Processing Speed

Processing speed is a cognitive talent that refers to your capacity to comprehend what you learn and use it effectively in the proper context to get the outcomes you desire.

With this ability, you may increase your daily productivity and, as a result, free up more time in your schedule to accomplish other things.

Consider having the capacity to sit down and study and thoroughly comprehend a certain part of your studies—such as a topic in a unit you’re working on in school or an online course—in under 30 minutes.

The best part is that you’ve grasped the concept so well that you don’t need to go back and reread it to figure out what it means and how it all works.

For most people, this may appear to be a far-fetched fantasy, yet some people are living it. Some say that this is a talent bestowed upon a select few but, in truth, it is something that anybody can learn if they set their minds to it.

It is possible to have a fast processing speed, which makes you a sharp person and enhances the quality of your life in the long run.

You may improve your information processing speed by doing an aerobic activity on a regular basis, forcing your mind to absorb things quickly by reading and analyzing information faster than normal, and consuming nutritious meals. [8]

6. Visual Processing

Visual processing is a type of processing speed that is only focused on visuals.

When you’re attempting to understand visual data like pictures, tables, and graphs, this expertise comes in helpful. We can all confess that we’ve had to utilize these two at some time in our lives, and knowing what’s going on is helpful.

The more you work with graphically displayed data, the better you’ll become at detecting the patterns that appear in it, and the simpler it will be to decode fresh data given in this manner in the future.[9]

7. Auditory Processing

Processing speed is a distant relative of auditory processing, just as it is for visual processing. It deals with audiobooks and other sound-based content.

We currently live in a time when modern technology is employed in nearly every industry, including education. Instead of spending a few days or weeks reading a coursebook, you may just listen to an audiobook and learn a lot faster.

You will have a lot easier time reading and furthering your studies if you are skilled at evaluating and making sense of sound and linking it to what you are studying. The more audios you listen to, the better your audio processing abilities get.

8. Working Memory

The working memory is where you keep the knowledge that you’ve just gained. Your working memory is amazing if you read a handbook for a gadget that you want to use right away and then go ahead and start using it without needing to refer to the instructions every now and again.

In education, working memory aids understanding, problem-solving, thinking, and planning.[10]

Having a competent working memory implies you can retain enough knowledge about numerous objects and their relationships to one another in your mind to take on and tackle the problem you’ve been given.[11]

Working memory may be improved by flashing words, numbers, cards, or even dots for a few seconds and then figuring out what you saw after a few seconds and checking whether you are accurate.

You may even take it a step further and see if you can conduct some really sophisticated calculations with what you see.

Working memory may be boosted by listening to noises and relating to them on a deeper level, similar to the flashing brain game.

9. Long-Term Memory

This refers to the preservation of knowledge that has been gathered over a lengthy period of time. When you can recall and quickly recover information about something you learned months or years ago, you are considered to have the finest long-term memory.

If you met someone a few years ago and now have the opportunity to meet them again and can recall their name, how they dressed, and what you spoke about the first time you met without difficulty, you may have an above-average long-term memory.

Continuous repetition (revisiting the material in your mind), picturing what you’ve learned, and being hyper-focused and attentive are all things that can help you take your long-term memory to the next level.

10. Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think, as well as produce, change, and use data from our senses in real-time for a variety of purposes, including problem-solving. [12] This sort of intelligence is unaffected by learning, education, or experience, and allows you to conceive abstractly and reason freely.

When you’re faced with an issue that you can’t address using your previous knowledge and experience, fluid intelligence can help you find the solutions you need.

Although fluid intelligence is thought to diminish in late adulthood, it is trainable and may be increased at any time in one’s life if one so desires. [13] You may enhance your fluid intelligence in a variety of ways.[14]

11. Crystallized Intelligence

Crystallized intelligence is the polar opposite of fluid intelligence since it is largely reliant on previous knowledge and experience. It is based on facts and information, and you become better at it as you get older because you get more knowledge and experience as you get older.

When you utilize fluid intelligence to think and reason about diverse situations and then retain the knowledge in your long-term memory, it can become crystallized intelligence.

The more you absorb knowledge, learn new abilities, and have a variety of experiences, the greater your crystallized intellect gets.


These are the cognitive abilities you should attempt to hone in order to make it easier for you to learn new things quickly and thoroughly.

Mastering these abilities isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. It may be necessary for you to step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself a bit each day in order to increase your mental strength.

The good news is that you are capable of doing so. You are more than capable of learning these talents and improving your life as a consequence.

The trick is to start small. One at a time, focus on one ability. Spend time honing it and applying it on a regular basis. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come in no time.


1. Springer Link: Selective Attention

2. Springer Link: Selective Attention Improves Learning

3. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Sustained Attention in Real Classroom Settings: An EEG Study

4. Science Direct: Sustained Attention

5. Science Direct: Divided Attention

6. Springer Link: Divided attention: Storing and classifying briefly presented objects

7. Springer Link: Logical Reasoning and Learning

8. Scientific American: What Causes the Brain to Have Slow Processing Speed, and How Can the Rate Be Improved?

9. Nature: Training improves visual processing speed and generalizes to untrained functions

10. US National Library of Medicine: Working Memory Underpins Cognitive Development, Learning, and Education

11. Processing capacity defined by relational complexity: implications for comparative, developmental, and cognitive psychology

12. Science Direct: Fluid Intelligence

13. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: Increasing fluid intelligence is possible after all

14. Scientific American: You Can Increase Your Intelligence: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Cognitive Potential

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