Are you having trouble trying to remember the things you’ve read? Or maybe you realize you’ve been daydreaming instead of reading? We’ve all been there. Spending hours upon hours flipping through the pages of our textbooks but not really understanding what we’re reading.
To add, we barely remember what we’ve read the minute we close the books. It’s normal to experience this, don’t fret. The only mistake you’re doing is that you are not reading the right way, there are ways you can help yourself recall things better and that’s why this article is written, we’ll provide you with tips to help you understand and remember anything you read.
How annoying is it that you freeze whenever you see your exam questions even after you read what was asked? Everything just slips through your head and you don’t seem to remember anything again despite reading and preparing for it all through the night. In the end you feel bummed and start to think that you aren’t smart. You’re wrong. You can be really intelligent but find it hard to remember things, having a good memory has little to do with intelligence. All you need to do is apply these tips and you’ll be just fine.
The real reason you aren’t understanding or remembering anything is that you are reading in a wrong way. You are probably doing something wrong, or you’re not doing enough. If you want to understand the things you read, you have to become a really critical and vigorous reader. Of course reading is boring compared to your television, social media, games and the rest, so you don’t attach the same excitement to reading as you do when you want to watch TV. When you don’t like reading or at least learn to love it, it might be a really difficult experience for you to read and understand talk less of remembering.
If you are excited about reading, you become active while reading and that’s the first step into helping yourself to read and remember. You also have to be really frugal so you can read what is important and not take in things that have little to no value to give you in terms of information.
If you are more excited to learn about something, if you are more curious about what you are reading, it is pretty obvious that your curiosity is going to help you understand and remember what you are reading because you are interested in it. And that introduces us to the first tip:
Tips to help you understand and remember anything you read
1. Develop an interesting/curiosity about learning:
One thing about books is that they have the answers to so many questions and they contain a numerous amount of information. If you are reading a book without learning anything from it, then you’re reading it wrong. You need to be curious and interested in what you’re reading in order to understand and remember.
As a general rule, you should be asking yourself why you are reading a particular book/text in the first place. For example you can ask yourself a question like “Why am I reading this geography text-book?” Your answer might be “Because I want to learn about rocks”. Then what you have to do is develop a deep curiosity about rocks and try to see what the book can teach or enlighten you about rocks!
The main thing is that you need to be interested and curious about learning, that way it makes it real easy for you to understand and remember things because you were interested in the first place. If you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t want to learn because it will feel like a burden and hence, you end up remembering nothing.
Develop a keen interests in reading and curiosity about whatever you’re reading about and you’ll be fine. If you’re reading without a purpose, why read at all?
2. Slow down:
Yes, slow down you’re not in a race. Observe commas, breaks and full stops. Try to grasp the understanding of each word as they relate to each other instead of rushing through them like you’re running a marathon. Understand the mechanics of what you’re reading and how it is written.
If possible, read a certain paragraph two or three times before moving on so you can really understand what is being said. When you take your time to read, you understand way better than when you’re in a hurry. When you take your time you’re in a more relaxed and comfortable state hence the brain focus on the task you’ve given to it. When you’re in a hurry, you get completely tensed and your brain would be in the “freeze, fight or flight” mode and yes, your brain freezes. Ever wondered why you don’t seem to understand anything when you’re trying to read three minutes before and exam? You’re tensed and when you’re tensed your brains freezes and when it freezes you find it really difficult to gather and keep enough information.
Why should you brain gather more information? It’s still processing the excess pressure you’re feeling about the exams so much that it can’t focus on any other task.
You should always try to read in your spare time, read when you’re relaxed and try to take your time while you do it. Focus on one or two words at a time, read and re-read paragraphs to try and grasp what is being said. There is no rush, stop obsessing over reading the next paragraph as quickly as you can when you haven’t finished the first one yes.
Try not to skip paragraphs or chapters unless you understand the one you are currently on, and to do so, you have to take your time to read.
3. Take notes:
This is a popular advise but it works perfectly well if you implement it. Take notes of what you read and you can try to create your own rough note books. We tend to remember the things we had written down way better than if we just read straight out of the textbooks.
Try to take notes of how you understand what you’re reading, write in a way that’s really clear for you to comprehend. When you try to explain things in your own words by writing them down, they tend to stick to your head because you’ve summarized what you’ve read in your own words, and if it’s your words, it’s easier to remember. Next time, when you’re looking back at the things you had taken down you’ll easily understand them with little to no stress at all.
While taking notes, you can also highlight things on the textbooks that seem really important. This will help you next time if you’re trying to skim through your textbooks looking for important points. Also take note that if you’re highlighting, try to make it minimal and only highlight important points. If you go on to highlight almost everything you will only betray yourself because it’s too much information to label as “important”. When you try to skim through, you will have nothing of importance to note when you highlight everything. Be frugal and highlight only important information.
4. Be imaginative:
You also have to open up your mind. Think as though you’re a little child, let your imaginations run wild. What you should do when you’re reading is to think in pictures, that way you’ll easily understand.
Try to picture what you’re reading and next time when you’re trying to remember what you had read, it will help because pictures are very easy to remember compared to words. When you’re reading, try to picture how that information relates to the world and to you. Rehearse what you have just read and see how many pictures you can create in your head.
This doesn’t just help your memory to become stronger, it also helps you to become very creative both with your mind and the way you see things. While reading, try to think with pictures.
5. Quiz yourself after reading:
Don’t just close your books and push them aside when you finish a chapter. Ask yourself questions based on what you had just read, try to see how much of it you really understand. If you fail to answer, you can always check back to the textbooks to see where you’re making the mistake.
Quiz yourself, try to explain to yourself the things you had just read. It doesn’t have to be only after you finish reading, you can quiz yourself about what you read before you sleep and after you wake up. This dedication makes the information to stick to your head way better than if you to go on with your life after reading and not quizzing yourself.
6. Talk about what you’ve read:
We tend to remember something better if we talk to someone about it or if we teach someone. If possible, get yourself a study mate who you can talk to and quiz with after reading. If you can also teach them different things from what you’ve read, it will help you remember and understand things way better.
Why do you think teachers can still remember what they’ve taught even in their sleep? Try as much as you can to talk about or teach someone what you’ve read, it helps your memory.
7. Don’t try to accumulate everything:
Stop going over your limit. Give yourself breaks and let your brain have some space. Trying to read everything and understanding everything at once is terrible, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot.
You’re overloading your brain with so much information it doesn’t know which to preserve as important at the present. Why not try and read in breaks? Instead of trying to cover 3 topics at a go why not take one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at night? Spreading your routine makes it better to understand because you’re giving your brain breaks so it can reflect on what it you had read. You will have time to reflect on what you read in the morning before you read in the afternoon, this way you understand everything.
Don’t try taking in everything at once because you’re clustering your head with information and not enough time(breaks) to reflect and understand what you had read.
8. Limit distractions:
Turn off the TV, switch of your phones and focus on what you’re reading. There’s no way you can grasp certain points when you’re constantly being distracted.
It’s fun to play music while you’re reading but you’re only deceiving yourself. You will end up not comprehending what you’re reading as much as you would if you gave it all your attention. If you’re reading, focus on that and that alone. Extreme concentration is what you need to help understand and remember what you’ve read. You have to discipline yourself to read without getting distracted.
Reading and understanding isn’t that hard, you just have to do things the right way and the tips above should help you with just that. One thing to add is that you need to be consistent with this routine otherwise it won’t work. Remember to take breaks and relax, if you aren’t feeling too good or if you feel uncomfortable, try to rest. You can always read later because you tend to understand things better when you aren’t stressed or tensed.
When you become consistent with the tips above they will become a habit to you and that should be the goal. Make these tips your daily habit, get used to them and you will always find it easy to read and understand or remember things way better than you are doing right now.
When you successfully adopt and form these habits, say goodbye tosss exam anxiety as you will become much more confident in what you’ve read and what you’re going to write. At this point, you’ll realize that you’re not actually dumb, you never were. You had been going around reading in the wrong way.