Monday, February 3, 2014

How to take the most out of a book

1. Slow down. The more you understand, the less you have to memorize.
Don't just read. Stop and think. When the book asks you a question, don't just skip to the answer. Imagine that someone really is asking the question. The more deeply you force your brain to think, the better chance you have of learning and remembering.

2. Do the exercises. Write your own notes.
We put them in, but if we did them for you, that would be like having someone else do your workouts for you. And don't just look at the exercises. Use a pencil. There's plenty of evidence that physical activity while learning can increase the learning.

3. Read the "Frequently Asked Questions."
That means all of them. They're not optional side-bars; they're part of the core content! Don't skip them.

4. Don't do all your reading in one place.
Stand-up,stretch, move around, change chairs, change rooms. It'll help your brain (and body) feel something, and keep your learning from being too connected to a particular place. Remember, you won't be taking the exam in your bedroom.

5. Make this the last thing you read before bed. Or at least the last challenging thing.
Part of the learning (especially the transfer to long-term memory) happens after you put the book down. Your brain needs time on its own, to do more processing. If you put something new during that processing-time, some of what you just learned will be lost.

6. Drink water. Lots of it.
Your brain works best in a nice bath of fluid. Dehydration (which can happen before you ever feel thirsty) decreases cognitive function. Beer, or something stronger, is called for when you pass the exam.

7. Talk about it. Out loud.
Speaking activates a different part of the brain. If you're trying to understand something, or increase your chance of remembering it later, say it out loud. Better still, try to explain it out loud to someone else. You'll learn more quickly, and you might uncover ideas you didn't know were there when you were reading about it.

8. Listen to your brain.
Pay attention to whether your brain is getting overloaded. If you find yourself starting to skim the surface or forget what you just read, it's time for a break. Once you go past a certain point, you won't learn faster by trying to shove more in, and you might even hurt the process.

9. Feel something!
Your brain needs to know that this matters. Get involved with the stories Make up your own captions for the photos. Groaning over a bad joke is still better than feeling nothing at all.

-Page XXV of "Head Rush Ajax" by Brett Mclaughlin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back to Top