Have you ever wondered why you read some pages of a textbook or handout and yet you can’t understand or retain what you have read? You might not be the only one facing this. For you to read and retain what you have read, you need to know the necessary things about reading for retention. If you are reading your handouts or textbooks, you need to know that you won’t read it like you would read a novel or magazine. You need to apply some skills which will help you retain what you have read and will help you to be successful in your academics.

First you need to know that, if you are reading anything especially one that has to do with your academics, understanding what you are reading is the first step to retaining it and being able to deliver where necessary, whether in tests or exams. One of the ways to start a book or a chapter of a book is by reading the summary first. This is also known as skimming. It improves your ability to retain it.

Another way of reading for retention is by scanning. This process is most times applied when you do not want to go through the whole material especially when it is voluminous and time is not on your side. Scanning helps you get the overview of the material or to find specific facts quickly and it saves you time. Scanning means to run your eyes down each page and taking note of any terms in bold-face print or italics, section headings, graphs and charts etc. While you are scanning, you need to keep your mind alert and active so as to pick up necessary points. Also, turn the terms which you note into questions. Another scanning technique that you can use is reading the first sentence of each paragraph.

Reading meticulously is another way of retaining information. Always read to understand the material. If the material or handout is a large one, it is advisable to break your reading into small bits. While some people might read a whole chapter or some pages and understand it, do not go beyond what you can. It is better to read in bits, understand and retain it than read at a stretch without recalling anything or understanding. Always take down notes each time you read. The more you write, the more your mind will be active while reading.

Reciting is usually done after reading. This means after you have finished reading, pause and ponder on the major ideas. Ask yourself the most important points covered in what you read. While reciting, you can also write down some terms on paper.

Reviewing is the next step. Here, you have to go over the material. It will help you remember the points. You might feel it is not necessary especially when you are tired, but reviewing goes a long way in retention.

When reading for retention, stay focused. You do not need distraction at this stage. Put away phones and put off your television. Time for reading is not time to check mails or log on to social media.

Always have a mental picture of what you are reading. Visualize it, try to see it real or picture it as reality.

Know what time you can read and retain. People have different period where their retention process is higher and better. While some tendency to read, understand and retain more very early in the morning, others might be late at night, and others might be in the evening. Don’t spend time reading in the afternoon when you know you won’t retain anything; go for what works for you. And also apply a process that works for you. If reading in quiet place will help you retain more, then choose a quiet place. If playing cool music while reading will help you, do it.

Another way of reading for retention is not getting everything mixed up. If you are reading on a particular topic, make sure you don’t have over five textbooks or handout on your desk trying to read from every one of them on a particular topic, you will get more confused and won’t be able to retain anything. Rather you can just focus on reading one textbook on that topic, but if you are sure the textbook or handout doesn’t contain as much information as you want, then use different textbooks to form a note which you will understand, and thereafter you take your time to read the note you formed with understanding and this will help you.

Test yourself after you have gone through all the process listed above. Write down questions after you have gone through all the process of reading for retention and thereafter, close your book and try to answer the questions from memory. This step will help you know how efficient you have been in your reading; you might not get it all but you will know how far you have gone. After marking your answers, try and know where you missed it and make corrections. While doing all these, try not to exceed one chapter or few pages so you won’t go beyond what you can. It is better to read bits by bits and retain it than read many pages and can’t understand or retain anything.

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