Do you read without thinking? And then don’t remember much about what you have read? This blog post will teach you how to read effectively so that what you read, you remember.
All revision and study involves reading, but if the reading is just superficial, then it’s pointless. Here are some tips on how you can read actively so that you understand thoroughly what every word, sentence and paragraph means.
Why are you reading?
When revising, there is always an aim or a purpose. Identify that purpose and as you read have that purpose in the back of your mind.
If you are going through Romeo and Juliet then you might need to memorize quotes or highlight the important/most exciting parts of the play. This blog post gives some excellent advice on how to do it.
If you are revising maths, then make sure that you know which formulas you have to memorize and which ones will be given to you. You will also need to remember the steps involved in specific calculations. For example, you need to know how to work out the surface area of a rectangular prism. This blog posting gives you 21 ways of revising maths.
If you are revising history, then learn important dates, events and try to imagine what life would be like in those past times. As you read, make notes and create timelines. Actively highlight key points in the text. This article gives some great revision tips on revising history.
Younger children often read mechanically, and look at the text word by word. They are so absorbed in working out what each word says that they don’t think about what they are reading. When helping a younger child with reading, help by decoding words, going over particular sounds and working out the meaning of new words. Also, stop at certain points and ask question on the text. These blog posts has some great advice on helping young children to read with more comprehension.
When revising science, make sure you know which topics you have to “recall” which means to memorise and which topics you must “understand and apply”. There is a lot to learn in science, so it is best to learn how to skim read and zoom in on the key words in the text.
Don’t Lose Concentration
To avoid getting bored and to staying focussed:
use highlighter pens – the colours add variety to our work
write questions in the margins to jog your memory
make up mnemonics to help you remember
use “sticky notes” to add points to think about
try to find patterns when you read
look for links between cause and effect or to other topics
You should be able to learn the work in such a way that you can teach someone else without getting muddled up. You don’t have to memorize every single word of your notes, but aim to memorize the main points at least, so that you can then write down these main points in a summary or on revision cards.
How Do I Know It’s Sinking In?
Re-read many times, even if you think you know it all. Test your knowledge by covering the page you are reading and then seeing how much you can remember. Then read the parts you forgot again. Read and understand one sentence at a time.
This is called active learning and it ensures that you are concentrating on what you are reading and will help you to remember more.
The important thing is to try a variety of techniques and to do it properly. I’ve seen students work, where they have revised using a highlighter, and they have highlighted nearly every word on the page. Another student, said he had revised using the “questions in the margin” technique. There were not enough questions to test that he had understood everything on the page.
Try them out and see what works for you.