Chevron Left
Back to Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects by McMaster University

74,183 ratings
21,034 reviews

About the Course

This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. We’ll learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information. We’ll also cover illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects. Using these approaches, no matter what your skill levels in topics you would like to master, you can change your thinking and change your life. If you’re already an expert, this peep under the mental hood will give you ideas for: turbocharging successful learning, including counter-intuitive test-taking tips and insights that will help you make the best use of your time on homework and problem sets. If you’re struggling, you’ll see a structured treasure trove of practical techniques that walk you through what you need to do to get on track. If you’ve ever wanted to become better at anything, this course will help serve as your guide. This course can be taken independent of, concurrent with, or prior to, its companion course, Mindshift. (Learning How to Learn is more learning focused, and Mindshift is more career focused.) To join the fully translated Portuguese version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated Spanish version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated Chinese version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated French version of the course, visit :

Top reviews

Sep 9, 2016

This is a course which I enjoyed. It gave a good insight of the learning methodologies which we have often heard of but not given due importance. Also, the brain facts is cool :) My 5/5 to this course

Aug 1, 2020

This course accumulates a clear and valuable set of thoughts that structure knowledge about learning principles and tactics. Also, it was interesting to know some new things about how the brain works.

Filter by:

476 - 500 of 10,000 Reviews for Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

By Rachel K

May 24, 2021

I loved the course and was able to learn great techniques which I will share with other learners. All educators should take this course and it should be compulsory course for all learners as it makes learning that much more easier and actually fun. Regular testing should not create butterflies but should be a regular dose for every learner to be able to help with the retention. I loved the pamodoro - learning in short bursts and taking a walk as a way to help. starting with hard questions in a test was a new concept for me and also reviewing your work from bottom up. Great Course - I am glad I made the time to take it. it gives me more confidence to now register for my masters program

By Veronique M

Apr 19, 2021

A tremendous course that I discovered by chance. As a teacher I feel both instructors and students can benefit of all the great insights provided throughout the course. Teachers can definitely learn how to adapt their course progression to leave time to the diffuse mode to do its job, and to give enough time to practice. Students can understand why they need to give their brains time to create strong connections, and why their teachers and instructors repeatedly advise them to practice regularly - and realize they may not be totally wrong. Thank you to Coursera for making this source of empowerment available to all and thank you Barbara and Terrence for sharing your knowledge with us.

By Shanmugavelu P

May 17, 2021

Its an amazing course for the persons who are interested in learning and also for the people who thought that they were poor in their learning practices. This course will teach you everything about learning, how one should learn and what are the techniques that one should follow for effective learning and for improving their memory. The overall review about this course is just "AWESOME, MIND BLOWING, EXTRA ORDINARY, MARVELLOUS" for learning about "LEARNING HOW TO LEARN".....Most recommended for all the learners in the word....

Thanks, for Barbara Oakley & Dr. Terrance Sejnowski for providing such an awesome course to this world for learners to improve their learning and memory Skills.

By doha f

Sep 5, 2017

No words can give this course and instructors what they really deserve. during this course I was surprised with the good advises, materials, interviews and facts that has brought to us. all techniques that I'v learnt her were really very good and have a strong effect in my way of learning. In the future i'll be back ti this course to study it more and more. one time only watching and following it is not enough. I strongly recommend this course to every one. I hope that we will have a series about learning related to this course to clarify everything related to this path.

thanks a lot to instructors, your work was really great, we all appreciate it.

thanks to coursera for this course.

By Gaby E S F

Oct 15, 2020

Great course which presents a lot of valuable tips and information for learning the best, easiest and smartest way. Dr. Barbara Oakley teaches in a very clear, comprehensible, and even sometimes funny way, so I could really understand everything and I am sure I will be able to recall it whenever I learn something and actually for any endeavour! The course includes many other resources and references to deepen knowledge and understanding. Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski did a great job putting all this useful information together in this really-easy-to-understand course. Congratulations and thank you very much for making it available to so many people around the world!

By Pablo G P B

Apr 10, 2019

It took me way longer than I wanted but I finally completed the course. I had for a long time been interested in improving the way I learn new subjects, specifically abstract ones and was never really satisfied with my performance so I continuously try to find way to improve my process for learning.

This course although really light in terms of the complexity of the ideas captures most of the recurring ideas around how to learn better, diffused vs focused mode, spaced repetition, retrieval practice, active learning, how to deal with procrastination, etc. Although I'm a professional procrastinator, I'm also the proof that these techniques work ;) ... even I can finish this course.

By Imran K

Jan 11, 2017

How interactive and amazing course is this!!!! i am completely astonish there materials and presentation deliberate process also video edit. It was mind blowing course.This course give me much more than my expectation. why i give 5 star, why not!? if it is possible to rate more than 5 , definitely i give them best. I highly recommend everyone , do not waste your time to learn applying ineffective process. Learn Best tips and technique from this course. I want to mention one of the important point in this course that ,this course's mentor and fellow learner are always active for answering your all questions. And also give thanks to coursera because they make this great platform.

By Sergiy T

Jan 10, 2021

I decided to take this course because I wanted to boost my learning skills and enhance my brain abilities.

Now, after finishing it, I can say that I've fulfilled this purpose. This course has given me much information about efficient learning technique, so now I can see, that i've started to obtain new data faster and, what's most important, to embed this data into my long-term memory, so I can access it whenewer I need, even after a long time. Also it was useful to discover how can I can better focuse on my learning activity without interruptions and procrastination.

I definitely recommend this marvelous course to everyone, who wants to learn faster and more effectively.

By Margarita L

Jan 28, 2016

I really enjoyed the course - it was helpful to review the basics of the best ways to learn. The most helpful was the the lecture about procrastination: tips on overcoming the negative feelings when starting learning activity (I realized in fact that it applies also for any other task that one is required to work on) and the expression 'eat your frogs first in the morning' motivates to concentrate on the most 'annoying' tasks first.

I appreciate the course structure, length of the videos, and the friendly and casual attitude of the course instructors Barb Oakley and Terry Sejnowski.

The complementary optional interviews are also a great source for motivation and inspiration.

By Jisoo L

Jan 28, 2021

This course is essential for all students and workers. It should be taught to all freshmen of all universities, or all high school and middle school students, If possible. It proposes the way of learning, and problem-solving, thus it covers businesses too.

The combination of the methodology and the neuroscientific grounds was persuasive. Additionally, interviews with the people who proved the theories by themselves were also impressive. Those various contents engraved the subjects in my brain. So I want to highly recommend this course to my friends and colleagues.

I'd like to express my gratitude to the instructors and the supporters. I really appreciate their efforts.

By Robert S

Apr 12, 2018

I highly recommend this course for anyone looking to better themselves in any way. For people looking to broaden their horizons in a new subject. For people struggling with internal issues, be it anxiety, tension, emotional pain. This course presents you with tools that you need to live a more curious and fulfilling life. You'll hear from experts across all walks of life about how they deal with issues you thought only you dealt with. You'll leave the course with a new inner strength and all sorts of new ideas for your life. I encourage you to explore the optional material and read what interests you. It adds a lot of new dimension to the material, as well as reinforces it.

By Russell Y

Dec 23, 2015

I saw this course recommended by a commenter on hacker news. It is really an amazing course. Because I've read a lot about the topic previously, most of the ideas were not new to me, but some definitely were, and the presentation just explained everything extremely concisely and linked everything together brilliantly. It had one great idea after another after another, with lots of information packed tightly in a small space (moreso since I watched it at 2x with closed captions). I got a lot out of this and took a bunch of notes, and am eager to try many ideas in practice, especially the ones having to do with procrastination, product/process, and the reward step for habits.

By christy.zhangy

Oct 28, 2017

This is a great course which full of information and applicable techniques for daily life. I used to use pomodora for some time but couldn't stick to it as a usual technique helping me to focus. But after taking this course, I changed my mind and I think this is really want I need. I used it for a week and surprisingly, I was more efficient on my work. Also I realized there are so many areas I can improve in terms of time management. It's so hard for me to reach 10 pomodoras per day which is just 5 hours of working time. If I can truly focus for 4 hours/ 8 pomodoras, I think I can have plenty of my own time working on something that I have been trying to do in a long time.

By Jorge L H R

Aug 25, 2016

At least on my country, formal training on learning how to learn is often omitted on basic education programs. However, on higher education it is expected to have this skill already developed. Learning techniques are then, self discovered or transmitted by word of mouth. As a result, a mix of myths, fallacies, and actual useful and correct techniques are assimilated. Habits and attitudes are developed based on those premises. Some of this habits are positive others plainly negative.

Having this course for validating or correcting our own skills and attitudes to learning based on scientifically validated techniques is very valuable. Thanks to the authors for sharing it.

By Tamzid I M

May 10, 2020

This is the first Coursera course that I have seriously spent time on. Many of the concepts discussed here may seem familiar, as many of us have figured (many of them) out through our own experience with learning. However, the great thing about this course is, it helps to put all those learning tricks together in a place of your brain (form a chunk !) and binds them together with logic and without a doubt makes you a better learner. I would recommend you to revisit the course materials from time to time even after you complete so that you don't forget them over time. Thanks to everyone who helped to put together this course. Special thanks to Dr. Oakley and Dr. Sejnowski.

By Khotoveli E

May 6, 2020

Thank you so much for this course! It meant a lot for me to find it in the first place. Now I can effectively improve my way of thinking and more importantly, my life. After I've finally grasped the concept of learning and memory I feel more confident to follow my interests and learn new skills since I have such practical and clear methods! I will highly recommend this course to all my friends and share with them my knowledge and insights. You've really changed my life, now I know - I can achieve anything by practice, consistency, interleaving, and perseverance. And believing in myself of course! Because by changing my thoughts I can change my life. And I definitely will!

By Anä K

May 14, 2020

With passing this course I finally acquired many useful and interesting tools for better learning especially when, taking to account, currently my studying is in free mode and honestly, it's not the easiest way to keep your attention and be always focusing on subject without necessity of being checked. Now with gained knowledge I'm able to concentrate on the process (by the way, the process of passing this course was also very enjoyable, thanks to great teachers) of studying and get fun with it even without permanent thinking about product. It's always important to improve your brain tool for efficient process of gathering and richer harvest. Highly recommended to pass!

By Andrei W

Jun 18, 2018

A YouTuber called call Thomas Frank actually mention this course in his video and I thought I would check it out. From the past 4 weeks, I'm glad I have a broad perspective of learning. Dealing with procrastination with the technique of extreme 25 minute focus. Not much student don't how to actually deal with procrastination and I'm glad I was taught the solution. Especially when reviewing! Doing a mini test when reviewing is the most important then doing a 1 hour study session and taking breaks is also important as well. Thank you Barbara and Terry for teaching me how to learn more effectively. With this knowledge and new skill I can now say I can start senior prepared.

By Kelechi

May 13, 2020

Hello, I highly recommend this course. The teachers, Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski structure their lessons into manageable chunks so that you can make the most out of each video. As well, they explain the material in a way that is easy to understand. I believe that this course will be helpful to you if you are learning, but the most important thing to remember is that no matter how well you do in this course, you will not gain the benefits if you do not practice the important concepts like chunking, focus modes, diffused modes, and the mind palace that help improve and better your learning. This has been Kelechi Osuchukwu and Thank you for learning how to learn.

By Gerstenberger

Apr 16, 2018

There are some points in this course that are awkward toward the beginning, yet all of them revolve around the the Dr's seeming to be nervous in front of the camera. I know I would not do any better☺

I do not say the above to be a jerk, simply to make people aware. I have recommend this course to many people and each time I do not preface above I get people coming back to make sure they are taking the correct course.

I truly feel this is the most important course anyone can take at any point in their lives. I have gone through it three times now just for refreshers. Best course I have ever taken, and best of all it cost me nothing but time. Well worth the exchange.

By Holly D

Sep 27, 2016

This course is a very good introduction to the science of the mind and how we can harness it for all it's worth. I'd recommend this course to anyone, especially someone taking an online class for the first time. Don't let the (beautiful) simplicity of the presentation fool you. Engage with what you are being taught in this course and you will never look at learning the same way.

I found the module on habits and procrastination /particularly/ interesting.

Thank you to all the people who made this course what it is, especially Barbara. I might even take it again some time for a refresher, when I have more time to spend on the forums and extra material provided.



By Nadav

Apr 9, 2020

Every Course in my life I was stress, I knew what will happen I will study hard but not like the other pupils I will fail I will be frustrated,angry, and disappointed, Sometimes I would consider not go to a course even if it will hurt my promotion at work or etc'.. just because I was so afraid of failure.

Iv'e learn so many new things and methods I cant wait to my next course or tests to try this new skill.

the thing is that I very like to learn new things and to study but would prefer to do it by myself and not in a class but now I'm so happy because I feel like I have the tools to study better, more efficient and to understand why I have always been a mediocre student.

By C S

Jan 6, 2017

This is a great course for many people. It is easy, flexible and promises to either suggest great tools and methods for learning or at the very least inform you of why the methods you use work as well as they do. This is a great course for both learners and teachers as it can help in structuring learning and teaching sessions to maximise information retention and the likes.

Further to that the tools for learning mentioned in this course are great and are backed by relevant research. This is a great course to do and if you're starting with MOOCs I would suggest this as one of the first courses to take. Thanks Barbara, Mr T and the crew. This was an enjoyable experience.


Dec 8, 2020

This course taught me how to avoid the illusion of competence when I think I know or have learned something right and to learn something substantial rather than superficial using new techniques. Also through group interaction and practice I can discover a different perspective that I had not thought of. In this course I also learned to believe more in my abilities and not to be influenced so much by the comments of others which are sometimes not constructive. To have people by my side who support my decisions and do not hold me back for their own reasons.

I enjoyed this course because I learned many things that I can follow in my daily life in a fun and meaningful way.

By Colin R

Jan 3, 2020

Very valuable, this course is a must. I now realise as a programmer I was getting myself so stressed because I was using only the focused mode of thinking, I needed to always have one eye on the bigger picture and use the diffused mode of thinking a lot more to make sure my assumptions were correct and I was generally on the correct path.

Another big take away for me was chunking and recalling what you've learned. Also the pomodoro technique to overcome procrastination. Process over product is one key takeaway, it's better to have a consistent approach rather than have the finished product in mind when you're working on something.

Thank you for an amazing course!