How to Start Remembering Everything You Read

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Here are some various strategies to help you start remembering what youre reading:

Write Summaries in Your Textbook
Summarizing your reading causes your mind to comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information better. You’re not just reading information passively, you’re causing your mind to join ideas together so you can condense it down yourself. Write down brief summaries as you read various sections in your textbook.

Say it Out Loud
After reading and writing summaries for about 30 minutes – stop and take a break. Try to recite out loud from memory what you’ve just read. Pretend to give a lecture on what youve read, and do your best to recall what you’ve just summarized. This might be difficult at first, but you’ll get better at it as you keep practicing.

Argue With Your Textbook
Another great way to remember what you’ve read is to start an argument with your textbook. Think critically about everything you’re reading and question concepts that seem foreign to you. Add question marks and underline areas that cause you to question. And make sure to write down questions in your textbook. These are also great questions to pose in class – or to ask your professor during office hours. It shows you’re an active reader.

Create a Mock Essay Exam
After finishing a chapter, write a mock essay exam question about what you’ve just read. And then take 15 to 30 minutes to write a detailed answer to the question from memory. This is a great way to make the information stick.

Record Your Verbal Summaries and Listen

I know this sounds geeky, but I used to record myself summarizing my textbooks. And I would listen to these recordings at night while falling asleep. This is a very easy way to help you memorize a lot of information without even thinking very hard.

The more actively involved you are with your textbook, the more you’ll comprehend and the more interesting you can make your reading experience.

Recommended Reading

Book Report Hack: How to Analyze a Book Quickly

As an English Literature major in college, I had to read 4 to 5 books per class. This meant that within a 10 week quarter, I would have read over 20 novels. It was a lot of work, but here’s a technique I used to help me analyze the books quickly:

1. Read the Plot Overview First
You can find plot summaries of most books online. I recommend checking out sparknotes.com, cliffnotes.com, or wikibooks.org. Plot summaries can give you a general understanding of the plot before opening the book. It will spoil the ending for you, but it will help you focus on the major plotline while reading.

2. Read the Themes, Motifs and Symbols
Sparknotes.com offers a Themes, Motifs and Symbols section for every book within its database. This will give you a snapshot of the major themes to watch for. If you know the themes and symbols ahead of time, you can start highlighting any reference in the book that relates to that theme.

3. Underline, Highlight and Write Notes
After you know the plot and major themes, you’re ready to start dissecting your book. As you study, start underlining the key passages that relate to the major plots and themes within the novel. Then make sure to catalog all your notations on a separate piece of paper. Write down page numbers and a brief comment of why that page or section is important to the main theme or plot you’re studying. This will be extremely helpful when you start writing a report or essay about the book.

4. Read Journal Article Abstracts
If you have time, it also helps to search for journal articles about the book you’re reading. I don’t mean start reading through dense journal articles. That takes too much time. I just mean that you should skim journal article abstracts so that you know what scholars are thinking about the book you’ve just read. Simply visit Google Scholar and type in the name of your book. Read the article abstract to give you ideas of what to write about.

Lastly, if you really don’t have time to read the book at all, then start reading through chapter summaries from sparknotes.com or cliffnotes.com. It’s not the best choice, but it will give you some preparation prior to a test or writing an essay.