# 1. Read with a dictionary
Read with a dictionary right next to you (go
out and buy a good pocket dictionary). First, it is a good idea to try and figure
out a word from context.
If you cannot, look it up immediately.
If you have to get up, leave the room and find the dictionary, you
will rarely be sufficiently motivated to do so.
Have the dictionary right at your fingertips.
Preview before reading.
At the beginning of the term, preview the textbook.
At the beginning of a chapter, preview the chapter. This strategy allows you to see where you're going before you
get there. It is remarkably effective
at improving your comprehension (and does not take much time).
#3 Read every day
Read some every day (or get as close as possible
to that). There is an effect
called the spacing effect. Essentially, if you are trying to remember complex material,
you will do so more effectively if you spread out your study time. For example, instead of studying for five
hours on Friday, study one hour on each of Monday through Friday.
Relate reading material to yourself. At various times, stop and ask yourself
"how does this apply to me?" or "can I think of an example
from my life that illustrates this concept?"
This is a powerful method for enhancing deep understanding and memory.
#5. Realize what is expected
As many of you know, you are supposed to spend 2 hours outside of class for
every hour in class. If you are nowhere near this, there is an obvious answer
to the question of how you can do better.
#6. Organization (Module 4)
All course material is organized. It is important that
you understand that organization. Even better, generate your own organization
and relate it to the one provided for you.
This strategy essentially combines elements from Preview and Self-reference
#7. Explain what you read
In order to understand what something means (and
remember it), you need to ENCODE what something means (sounds obvious, doesnŐt
it?). DonŐt just repeat what you
read to yourself. Take very
frequent breaks to explain, in your own words, what you have just read.
Elaborative verbal rehearsal in Module 4.
Predict what will come next
To promote active processing and test your understanding while you are reading,
try to predict the next section. This works well at the paragraph level
The strategies are piling up
DonŐt think you need to use all the strategies, all the time.
Can you think of a self-reference example?
Do. Can't? Try explaining or predicting. Etc.
#10. Ruin your book
Face it; the book store isn't going to give you s**t when you try to sell
it back. So, you might as well
get the most of it while you have it. Highlight, write notes in the margins,
do anything that will help you to remember when you are reviewing the night
before an exam.
#11. Learn to recognize clues
This one applies to any course material. There are many clues that something is
important. Introductory phrases,
placement in the text, the size of the heading, and many other clues are commonly
used. Learn to identify the particular
ones for your textbook and your instructor.
#12. Don't buy a used book
At least avoid one that the previous owner has highlighted.
Research has shown that if he or she highlighted inappropriately, it
will interfere with your learning.
#13. Noticed a pattern?
many of the other tips have in common. In short, you should read actively. You are not supposed to sit there and
let the words hit you in the eyeballs and hope that they somehow make to your
brain and stick. You must assiduously
(tip #1, anyone?) work to process the reading material. All of the strategies I gave you (plus
many others I have not given you) are extremely effective ways of enhancing
your understanding and memory of what you have read simply because they encourage
you to process the material more actively.
#14. Make the strategies your own
Adapt, revise, refine to suit your own strengths, weaknesses, needs, and preferences.
Similar to the self-reference effect, the more ownership you feel toward these
strategies, the more effective they will be for you.
#15. Never give up
It will seem difficult.
Sometimes, it will seem as if my way isn't working.
You will be tempted to go back to the old way. Please trust me. You
will improve, and, perhaps more importantly, eventually the new way will seem
as easy as the old way of reading.