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10 Best Ways To Retain Information From College Textbooks

This doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic. After all, the title has the word ‘Textbooks’ in it. I mean … what word could possibly be less exciting? I can’t even think of one. That said, I’m going to do my best to make sure that the following information is valuable and not boring. Think I can pull it off? Hmm … let’s get to the 10 Best Ways To Retain Information From College Textbooks.

1. Review Chapter Headings & Subheadings

You no longer have permission to fly by chapter headings and subheadings. Look at them carefully and think about the concept. Then move on to reading.

2. Read The Chapter Summary 3x

When you meet someone new, you’re probably not sure what to think. You have an idea, but you need more information. The second time you see them, your subconscious is beginning to say, “Okay. I’m starting to understand what this person is about.” And the third time you see them, you already feel like you know them well. Do you see my point? The same concept applies to the Chapter Summary. Read it three times and you will have a big-time head start.

3. Study Charts & Graphs Until You Fully Understand Them

This probably sounds boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of these charts and graphs as puzzles and you must figure out each puzzle within 30 minutes in order to escape a dungeon. Otherwise, you will be locked in that dungeon forever. And every day, new insects enter the room. It sounds silly, but play this game in your mind—time included—and you will see the difference. You have turned something boring into a fun challenge.

4. Use The Dictionary

If you don’t understand a word, look it up, then apply it to the sentence in which it was used and keep reading until you fully understand the concept. Believe it or not, this is an enjoyable experience because you’re taking the initiative to make yourself smarter. It’s not something someone told you to do. You’re using the dictionary as a rebel!

5. Use Q&A

If there is a Q&A section at the end of a chapter, use it until you it. I know for a fact that Q&A is boring because I recently wrote a book: The Big Book of Poker Q&A and it’s one of my worst-selling books, even though it included poker stories and a drug addict. I’m not going to pretend Q&A isn’t boring. But it’s still recommended.

6. Read Out Loud

Reading out loud improves your comprehension and retention of information.

7. Act Out Information

I’ll keep this very simple. If you’re studying Exercise Physiology and you’re reading about flexion, make a muscle with your bicep. Please do that right now. How does it look? How does it feel? Need to hit the gym? Or suns out, guns out? I bet you won’t forget you just did that.

8. Highlight Important Concepts & Facts

Don’t be like I used to be and highlight 30% of the chapter. That doesn’t do much. I eventually learned that highlighting important concepts and facts is more like gravy than the actual meal. It’s used for quick review. And keep it to about 5% of what you read.

9. Use Index Cards

Memory is only half the battle, but it’s still important. Test yourself by using index cards. Keep going until you get every single one right three times in a row. You can also use index cards for concepts. It’s a bit more complicated yet still highly effective.

10. Discuss Verbally

When you have a study group, you discuss concepts and pick up information from one another, which moves everything from short-term memory to long-term memory.

If you were to apply all of the tips above, it won’t turn you into a genius, but you might feel and look like one.

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