Students often do not internalize what they read. This leads to frustration and an inefficient use of time. It can also cause great frustration. Too often, students who do not read critically spend hours reading material and then, only a short time later, forget what they have read and never truly understand it.
This article will give five easy steps to help you read more critically and, therefore, understand more in less time.
Step 1: Have a purpose when reading.
It is important for students to have a purpose when they read. If the minute details of an assignment are not important, then don’t spend too much time worrying about them. Focus on bigger themes. If the details are important, however, you will have to slow down when you read and concentrate more on the details.
Step 2: Make intelligent marks.
I say to make “intelligent” marks because it does not do you any good to highlight a whole page or half a page. Highlight only those things that are very important. Do not highlight something if it is merely an interesting fact.
Step 3: Use Color.
Using color can add a great deal to a highlighted passage. I suggest using a 4 Color pen. Highlight important definitions in your reading in one color, important facts in different color, and issues you are confused about in a different color. By doing this, reviewing what you have read is much more efficient because you can quickly spot exactly what you are looking for.
Step 4: Write in the margins.
Summarize long paragraphs in one sentence in the margins after having read an entire paragraph with intricate details. For example, if you have just read a passage about the American soldiers setting up weapons at Dorchester Heights during the American Revolution, simply write in the margins, “Americans take Dorchester, British flee.”
Step 5: Review.
This is the most important step. If you have followed my suggestions above, this step will be easy and will help you to internalize the material. Go back through all of the pages you have studied, read the short sentences in the margins and skim through highlighted areas. Then, during the day when you are driving around or hanging out, try to remember what you have summarized. Think it through or talk with someone about it. By doing this, you will truly learn and not just regurgitate and forget material.
By following these steps, you will become a more critical reader, understand more in less time, enjoy learning, and get better grades.