How to Read a Boring Textbook like It’s a Twilight Novel

How to Read a Boring Textbook like It’s a Twilight Novel

Using active recall while you read will improve your reading comprehension by an order of magnitude
In my article about using active recall while you study, I described the basics of the method, gave you an example of how to use it, and showed you how dramatic the results are if you use active recall compared to other study methods. Since most learning in school occurs by reading textbooks, I feel it is important to address how to apply using active recall while you read because it can save you a lot of time studying. Reading is generally categorized as passive learning, however, there are things you can do to make it an active learning method, thereby greatly improving your reading comprehension.

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Use Active Recall If You Don’t Want to Blank on Exams

Use Active Recall If You Don’t Want to Blank on Exams

Using active recall is the best way to learn material faster and remember it longer
A lot of my students at one point in time have asked me something along these lines: “What should I do to prepare for my exams – read over my notes again, listen to the lectures online again, rewrite all my notes, read the book again?” To all of which my response is always “No, no, no and no.” Most students, despite spending a huge portion of their day studying, haven’t tried to figure out what study methods are most effective. Even if they can find a way to learn something 10% faster, say in 27 minutes instead of 30 minutes, this 10% boost in efficiency will save hundreds of hours of study time over the course of a year. What if you could cut study time by 20%? 40%? Imagine how much more time you would have to text and Facebook stalk!

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Use Spaced Repetition If You Don’t Want to Study for Finals

Use Spaced Repetition If You Don’t Want to Study for Finals

Using spaced repetition will help you remember things long-term
Spaced repetition, also called distributed practice, is one of the three primary teaching methods I train my tutors to incorporate into their sessions. It is one of the best ways to help you recall information and solidify it into your brain for the long-term – think final exam!

So what is spaced repetition? Well, the name kind of gives itself away – it’s the idea that in order to learn something you cover it once, then again, and again, and again until you get it. Sounds stupid and obvious, right? But here’s the key – you wait for longer and longer periods of time before trying to recall the information. This is called an expanding “spacing effect” in psychology and it has been shown to be much more effective in helping people learn new skills and recall information. Let me illustrate the method of spaced repetition with a simple example.

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