It’s another day of school, so you’re reading. And reading. And reading. Yet, nothing seems to be getting through your head. Retaining information can be a difficult endeavor in any field. It’s all too easy to read copious amounts of texts without actually having the information go to your brain. At times, the texts can feel like an impediment rather than a useful tool. Along with their graduate student mentor Jessica Schirmer, students in the Sociology Berkeley Connect program discussed their methods for absorbing big ideas in academia. Their reading and studying strategies may help you too!
- Forming a study group can be a way to share ideas with peers, as well as a way to make new friends. “It’s good for me to talk things out with classmates; their perspectives help me understand the subject more,” one senior studying sociology said.
- Recording a lecture and then listening to it again can help reinforce the ideas covered in the lecture. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Make sure that your professor allows recording before employing this method.]
- Not all reading assignments will require reading every single page; this depends on your professor and class.
- For dense readings in social theory, it’s difficult to skim. Highlighting and writing in the margins can be a useful tool for engagement.
- You may want to look for a specific word in your readings. When reading texts online, Command-F is a useful searching tool: you can type in any keyword, and it will show results for your search term.
- Pay close attention to the first and last paragraphs; this is where authors present their main ideas and summarize their concepts. This can be a helpful skimming tool.
- In your notes, summarize each page you’re reading. Then, summarize that summary. Keep on condensing the information until you have a full grasp of your reading.
For auditory learners
- Search the topic you’re studying on YouTube and watch a video about the topic; if you’re more of an auditory learner, this may help more than rereading the same paragraph over and over again.
- Khan Academy is a helpful resource with videos explaining large concepts. Topics covered range from multivariable calculus to art history.
- If you have Microsoft Edge, you can have the program read PDFs to you. If you right-click, there’ll be an option to have speech to text. At double-speed, 15 pages of text translate into around 30 minutes of listening time. There’s also Adobe Acrobat (to which Berkeley students have free access), which offers the same service under “Optimize Page → Advanced Optimization → Recognize Text → Copy and Paste into a Word document → Have it Read to You.”
These reading and studying methods are great ways to gain better understanding of the topics you’re studying—and deeper understanding leads to better writing. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get an A+ with these techniques in the future!
Written by Melody Niv, Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant