Determine the structure and organization of the chapter.

  • Think about the title. Guess what will be included in the chapter.
  • Read the introduction. The main ideas will help you understand or make sense of the details.
  • Read the main headings (boldface type). Here are the main headings. Read the summary. Here is the relationship among the main ideas.
  • Read the summary. Here is the relationship among the main ideas.
  • Read the questions at the end of the chapter. These will help you to identity important parts of the chapter


Turn each heading and subheading into a question. Especially while you are practicing this technique, write the questions down. This gives you a focal point for crystallizing a series of ideas (the answer). YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING RATHER THAN SIMPLY LOOKING AT WORDS.

Take one section at a time. Keep answers Brief. Use your own words.


Read only that section, looking for the answers to your questions. Move quickly. Sort out ideas and evaluate them. If content does not relate to the question, give it only a glance.


Answer the questions in your own words, not the author’s. Then write the answer using only key words, listing, etc. that are needed to recall the entire idea. Follow the above technique for each section of the chapter.


Increase retention and cut cramming time by 90% by means of immediate and delayed review. Try a variety of methods, such as 3x5 cards, oral recitation, and or study groups.

Immediate: Time yourself when reading. 30 mins of studying followed by 5 min break and then a 5 min review of what notes you have written down. This will allow your brain to go over the subject matter repetitively which will increase retention

Delayed: Bring notes to class and review them before the class begins. Use these notes along with lecture notes to review material

Adapted by James Madison University Learning Success Strategies Program

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