When Studying and Reading
Information from a handout by Jane L.
frequently complain that it is too hard to concentrate when studying or
reading textbook assignments. How often do you hear yourself say, "I
But is this true? Isnt the problem
that we really find it harder to pay attention because we dont like
to read our texts as much as the latest music or movie review, fashion
magazine, or the sports page?
are some strategies that many students have found helpful to overcome
it means to study!
is the process that is used to decide what to learn and what to remember
and recall.James F. Shepherd
Here is what
the process looks like. If you follow these steps, your concentration
and memory will improve!
|What is reading,
may think this is a silly question, but how did you answer it?
you think of reading as your eyes moving across a page and words
jumping into your head?
Or did you consider that reading is actually
a conversation between you and the author? If you think of reading
as the way an author talks to you, it is easier to see what you
can do to stay interested and find ways to improve your concentration.
reading, because the author communicates to you through the words on the
page, the conversation is from the author to you. If you had that kind
of discussion with your family or friend, would you just not say anything
when others were talking to you?
Or would you join in, offer your opinions,
ask questions when you didnt understand what they meant, or even
argue? Most of us would want to actively participate in what was being
active participation is the same key to improving your concentration when
|How do I
get actively involved when reading?
are many strategies you can use to become an active reader.
The more techniques you use, the easier it will be to stay focused
on your reading.
key to maintaining focus is to stop periodically and ask yourself
improving your concentration, you will also determine how well you
have understood what you have read, find the areas you dont
understand yet, connect information to what you already know and
improve memory, and anticipate possible test questions.
will also have questions to ask in class, on the discussion board,
or when you talk with your professor.
what do you ask? Here are some examples:
does this relate to what I already know?
this is true, what else follows?
else could these facts mean?
assumptions are being made
is the evidence for this?
I think of a good example of this?
are the unique points of this?
way to ask questions is to get a study buddy, someone with whom you
can go over the assigned material, discuss lecture notes, and prepare
for tests. This strategy has proven more successful than studying alone simply because you talk out loud about what you know. When confused, the two of you search for and vocalize answers.
technique is to read the bold headings in the chapter and turn those
into questions. Heres an example using a heading from a sociology
A Different Kind of Poverty
I know where India is located? Can I easily find it on a map?
Why is poverty in India different? Different from what? Where?
What measures were used to determine the levels of poverty in India?
How would I feel if I were poor and lived in India? How would I be
often become confused or discouraged when we focus on the words
on the page instead of the ideas.
If we stop and look up all the words we dont know in the dictionary,
we forget what we are reading about and have to start all over.
read the entire paragraph or section or page without stopping. When
you keep reading, the ideas will become more important than the
words and understanding is easier. You can always go back, circle
and look up the words you arent sure ofthey arent
you have read a paragraph or page or section, try the following strategy.
and close your book.
about the information you have read and what you remember.
out loud what you know. If you cant say it, you havent learned
it. But dont get upset or start negative messages to yourself.
Simply open the book, reread the same paragraph or page or section,
then try this again.
find you have to reread numerous times before you can remember most
of the information, break the information up into smaller sections,
such as a paragraph instead of a page, a few sentences instead of a
works for you!
ways to do something! In order to read, your brain
has to become involved. Here are some things to do to help this
a pencil mark to check off each paragraph that you completely
understand. If you start to get lost in the reading, you will
know exactly where: just after the last check.
a section is too difficult for you, try reading it out loud. If
you see it and hear it you will understand and remember the information
better and faster.
to link new information with the information you already know.
yourself, "How do I already know this?" You can also
ask yourself questions such as those listed above. Active linking
creates powerful memories.
a few seconds to write down key words and concepts. Draw pictures
you "read, rite, and recite (RRR), youve got
a better chance of retaining crucial information. Seeing, doing,
and hearing is the best formula to increase concentration and
taking a short break from studying and before you begin again,
take a few minutes to review the information you have just learned.
This will give you a sense of progress and motivate you to continue.
It will also tell you which areas you need to review before you
start studying new information. Your confidence will increase,
and you will feel better prepared when its time for your
you don't understand concepts or you have trouble applying what
you have learned to problems or exercises, get help immediately. If you don't ask, your instructor assumes you have learned
your instructor during an office hour. Have questions prepared
so you use this time effectively.
your study buddy.
up an appointment with a tutor.
Resources on Study Skills and Concentration
are some resources to help you become more effective in your studies.
Go to Avoiding
Go to Effective
Textbook Reading Skills
Go to Memory
Go to Online
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used with permission of the author. © Jane L. McGrath
site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic
Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel
|The ASC logo
was created by Andrew C. Rempt.
@ Andrew C. Rempt