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Carrie Thornbrugh, BA, MA Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA

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1 Carrie Thornbrugh, BA, MA Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA
Study Skills Carrie Thornbrugh, BA, MA Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA

You will read an incredible amount of information while you’re in college; it is a primary method of conveying information. You may be surprised at how much you can improve your reading ability using some new and effective strategies in order to streamline your information intake.

3 VOCABULARY There is no better way to improve your reading than by improving your vocabulary. Have a good dictionary nearby when you read. Every time you encounter a word you don’t know, stop and look it up. Try to develop an interest in learning more words. The more words you know, the more concepts you will understand. Trying to figure out the meaning as you read further usually wastes time, and you may miss important information because you’re concentrating on the definition, not the information.

4 TEXTBOOK CLUES PIVOTAL WORDS: Authors often provide clues to let you know when there is more to the idea, or when there may be a “catch.” Here are some words or phrases often used as clues: Additive words mean there is more important information to follow: “also,” “additionally,” “besides” Equivalent words mean there is a dual meaning of function to the subject matter: “as well as,” “ at the same time,” “equally important” Amplification words are specific examples of instances to support the concept: “for example,” “for instance,” “specifically” Most textbooks contain a variety of tools to assist your reading. These include pivotal words and visual elements.

5 PIVOTAL WORDS CONTD Summarizing words sum up everything that has been said:  “for this reason,” “in brief,” “in summary” Emphasizing words tell you something very important is coming up:  “above all,” “indeed,” “more important” Cause-and-effect words provide an explanation: “accordingly,” “because,” “thus"

6 VISUAL ELEMENTS Graphs show relationships between sets of variables.
Tables organize and condense information and can help you see relationships. Diagrams help you visualize parts that can help you remember information. Pictures aid recall through visualization. If you can remember the picture that accompanied the material, you have a better chance of remembering the material itself. Visual elements such as tables, graphs, diagrams and pictures can assist you in understanding and recalling information.

Limit your reading to a reasonable amount of time. Don’t read more than 30 minutes without a break. Estimate how much information you need to cover in the time you have, and try to finish within the time limit. Be realistic about how much you can read. Don’t expect to cover 100 pages of a philosophy text in the same amount of time as 100 pages of a novel. Warm up your brain before reading by reviewing your notes or other information you already know about the subject. Think of questions about what you’ll be reading. Read to answer the questions. When you plan what you need to get done in the time available, you will know where you’re headed. This helps you maintain concentration and keep on task. Reviewing information establishes connections between old and new material, and raising questions about your reading helps keep you interested in the material.

8 GENERAL READING TIPS Use a pencil when you read. It serves as a guide to keep your reading speed steady, and is handy for making notes in the margins. Highlight/underline only the important information. Read a section before you mark it. You can’t decide what is important information until you’ve read it. Pay attention to the text. Use all the clues and tools the author provides. Remember the pivotal words mentioned above, and study graphics carefully. Take notes while you read. This helps you retain new information and organize it for review. If you routinely review your notes (reading and lecture) throughout the semester, you will be much better prepared for tests. Set your environment. Find a comfortable location and make sure you have your supplies (highlighter, dictionary, etc.). Pay attention to conditions such as light, temperature, and background noise.

9 SQ4R STUDY METHOD Following the six steps of this method can make your reading more efficient, and help fix the important points of the chapter into your memory. You may find that quiz and test questions seem familiar. This is because you have turned chapter headings into questions. When you predict questions and find the answers as you read, you are likely to be studying what is important in the course.

10 S| SURVEY  Surveying is the first step – a “sneak preview” of the chapter. Preview the chapter by reading the introduction and conclusion. You will increase your interest in the subject, and provide expectations to meet while you read. Scan the chapter headings to learn how the main points are developed or grouped. Once you have interest and expectations, you have a better chance of reading more effectively and efficiently.

11 Q| QUESTION Actively asking and working toward answering your questions helps the information stay with you. Turn each heading into a question. This engages your curiosity and aids in comprehension. The questions you ask will make important points stand out. Decide whether you need the body of the writing (which explains the points in detail) comprehensively, or if you can just skim it.

12 R| READ Read to answer the question (usually to the end of the first section, paragraph or column). Turning a heading into a question demands a conscious effort on your part to find the answer. Your reading becomes an active search for the answer, rather than a passive scan of information.

13 R| RECITE Briefly recite the answer to your question aloud, using your own words and examples. If you can do this without looking at the book, you know the material. If you can’t recite the answer, glance over your question and the sections again. To help you recite from memory, jot down cue phrases in outline form on a sheet of paper (highlighting the cue phrases in the textbook helps, too). Now repeat the Question, Read, and Recite steps in each section for the remainder of the reading assignment.

14 R| REVIEW After you read the entire lesson using the Question, Read, and Recite steps, review your notes or what you have highlighted. Check your memory of the content by reciting the major subpoints under each heading. Do a final summary review of the introduction, conclusion, and your notes/highlights. This helps you get the “big picture” of topics and ideas in the chapter.

15 R| REFLECT Mentally manipulate your new ideas, turn them over, speculate on them, compare one with the other, notice where they agree and differ. Organize and reorganize these ideas into larger categories, or compress them into smaller units. Finally, free the ideas from the chapter and the book by incorporating them into your existing knowledge. Now you own the ideas. This style of reading and the Cornell note-taking system stimulates CRITICAL THINKING skills.

16 Effective Note taking Effective note taking techniques such as Cornell Style of Note Taking stimulates critical thinking and problem solving skills. Taking good notes helps a student organize and process data and information and memory recall.


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