Autopilot Brain: How It’s Affecting Your Grades


We’ve all been there. You’re halfway through a lengthy chapter, and you realize you don’t remember anything you just read. You have two choices. You can either go back and re-read, or you can keep going and hope all your excessive highlighting and underlining will get you through the chapter. And you choose the latter. A few weeks later, you get the test and instantly think: when in the world did I read this?

I get it. Most of the time, the material isn’t interesting. But we all want that high GPA, and autopilot brain is preventing us from that.

So, how do I fix this?

You take action. Instead of just reading the textbook and highlighting and underlining your way through it, take notes. Write in the margins if you can. If not, write your notes in a notebook or type them up. Although highlighting and underlining can be useful, it leads directly to autopilot brain. Make sure you only use these to supplement your notes.

For example, you have an article about whether or not Beyoncé is a feminist icon. Instead of just highlighting or underlining parts, you keep track of every point in the margins and note which side it’s arguing for. Even better, if you’re handwriting or typing your notes, you could make a chart to keep the arguments straight.

In the end, you’ll find that you remember a lot more when you’re actively trying to learn the information. Although it seems to take longer, you will spend less time re-reading and trying to decipher why you highlighted that line and more time actually reviewing. And, since you learned it the first time, you will likely have to spend less time reviewing it!

Overall, autopilot brain limits what you remember while reading. Take action instead, and you will see your grades improve immediately.

What are your thoughts? Have you had any experience with autopilot brain? Share below in the comments!

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