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Top Ten Tips for Improving Information Processing

Reading Textbooks

  1. Use a survey approach to reading a chapter, i.e., read the headings and subheadings, observe charts and graphs, read summaries, and skim questions at the end.
  2. Based on your surveying, ask questions before you read the chapter. Become actively curious about the material as this aids in concentration, comprehension and memory.
  3. Read each section for understanding. Make a deliberate effort to recall the main points. Don’t read further if you don’t understand the key concepts.
  4. While reading a text book make notes in the margins; consistently use a variety of markers to indicate examples, dates, etc.; underline main concepts. Make a list of key terms and their definitions.
  5. If you take detailed notes, make an outline to condense the material and organize the material into identifiable categories.
  6. Read material prior to attending the lecture, so you already have a general understanding or at least recognition of the material.

Listening in Lectures

  1. When taking notes use an outline format. Make sure you include all key section headings and distinguish definitions, key points, supporting material, examples, and your own ideas or questions. Try to put your notes into your own words, except when writing definitions or exact examples.
  2. When highlighting your text, mark only after reading a section. This will allow you to chose the main points and not mark the same ideas twice. Don’t just rely on your highlighting when you study for a test.
  3. Judge the content of the material not its delivery. Listen for ideas, keep your mind open, write down questions you have, and resist distractions.
  4. Don’t tune out in the last few minutes of a lecture. Professors may cram very important material into the last few minutes so you need to stay alert until the end.