Medliorate

Improving medical students

Reading Better, Retaining More

Posted by medliorator on January 29, 2008

  1. Read with a purpose: Beyond “the teacher said so” there is always a reason why you are reading something. Are you reading it to understand an argument? Learn facts? Background material? Whatever the reason you were assigned that piece of reading, focus on it as you read. If you aren’t clear on what you are trying to get out of the material, ask the teacher before you read. Write the purpose at the top of a piece of paper and have it right there.
  2. Read with paper and pen: As you read, take notes. Keep looking at your purpose and write to answer the question or support what you are doing. If done well you will be able to get everything you need to study for an exam from your notes. (I do advise doing this by hand, since the act of writing often helps people remember things while the act of typing isn’t wired in the same way. However if you prefer to do this electronically, go ahead. )
  3. Notes should be brief: You are not rewriting the piece. Think in terms of bullet points or outlines. Short sentences, indentations, and lists will help you remember what you read AND make sense of it later.
  4. Leave white space around your notes: When you go to class you are going to take these notes with you and use the discussion in class to fill in any blanks. Because of that you want to have space to add things, draw connections that you may not have made before, and clarify things. Remember, the goal is to not have to go back to the base reading later, so these notes should be good.

4 tips for reading better and retaining more [Gearfire]

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