How to Remember What You Read

Learning never stops. Anyone who wants to advance in his or her career – or even keep his job – knows this. We all learn in different ways – by listening, by watching, by doing. And one of the most common ways is by reading.

But a common problem with reading is remembering what we have read. Often, after we are finished reading, we cannot recall much of what we just looked at. The reason for this many times is that we are too passive when we read. We scan through the text, take in the words, but not much more. Reading is like anything else – you get out of it what you put into it.

Here are a few strategies for helping you to retain what you read.

1. Ask questions, and look for answers
One way to help you retain information is by generating questions that you try to find answers for in your reading. To help you generate these questions, start by looking over the table of contents to get a general idea of what is covered. This gives you a purpose for your reading, which makes it easier to remember what you read.

2. Write things down
If you have ever seen books owned by great writers, something will immediately stick out. There will be scribblings all over the pages of the book – in the margins, at the top and bottom of the pages. This shows a mind that is actively engaged with what it is reading, not someone who is simply passively absorbing the information.

And you can do the same. Write in the margins to summarize the content, putting it into your own words. If you disagree with something, make a note of it. If what you read reminds you of something else, make a note of it. All of this will help you to remember.

3. Apply what you read
We read for a purpose – to help us improve our lives in some way or improve our job performance. So, think how you can put what you have read to use in your own life. How does the information connect to you and your life? If you find a connection, you will certainly remember the material better.

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