Offers techniques for taking practical notes while reading.

Reading heavy chapters at a time can frequently turn into a monotonous chore and even more of a burden if you find yourself reading the same chapters all over again as a method for studying exams. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can put into practice to help prevent heavy reading loads.

Before You Read

Taking practical notes while reading can keep your attention focused on the text rather than falling into the trap of “passive reading” or simply scanning over sentences while your mind wanders someplace else. Before you begin reading the chapter, follow these simple guidelines to make your reading experience a little easier:

  • Scan through the chapter. Do not just delve right into heavy reading. Glance through pages in the branch, reading bold and italicized words, picture captions, titles, chapter conclusions, and so forth. By doing this, you will know what to expect from the chapter before you even begin reading it.
  • Recall what you’ve discovered. After you have finished scanning through the chapter, recall what you have found in your quick review and what the chapter will be about. It will help put your thoughts in order before you begin your reading.

Taking Effective Notes While Reading

Many students will underline or highlight specific points as they move along in the reading; however, this technique can often prove ineffective. Students are more occupied with accentuating what they feel they need to know rather than focusing their attention on understanding the text. A lesser-known but influential strategy for taking notes while reading is a system called Question in the margin. This technique, which can be found in Carolyn Hopper’s Practicing College Learning Strategies, suggests trying the following:

  • Following paragraph in your textbook reading, write a question on the left side of the margin that captures the main idea of what the section was about.
  • Once you have devised a question for the paragraph off in the margin, underline or highlight keywords that answer the Question. Be careful not to highlight the entire section!
  • This technique may seem quite time-consuming at first. Still, once you have finished devising questions for each paragraph in the chapter, all you will need to do is go back through the chapter and study the questions – which will more than likely be test questions — and review their respective answers. This strategy will undoubtedly save you a lot of time, so you won’t have to re-read the chapter later on.



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