A good method for studying is to follow some solid steps, such as organizing the materials, deciding what the main contents are and which ones can go after. Distributing time in a flexible way is fundamental, so is it being open to changes that may arise as we study. It is also very important to consider that each subject has concrete difficulties, technical vocabulary that must be defeated; this will help us not to give up in the first attempt.
While we study it is also helpful to get used to our personal rhythm, knowing that it is not the same for everybody. We have to be realistic and value our individual capacities for memorizing or fixing the knowledge.
The right process
As soon as we begin studying, we must bear in mind that there is a stage of “pre-reading” –meaning the first look we take into the topic-, when we find out what it is all about and get a general idea. The title itself facilitates getting into it.
Later, we move on to the stage of comprehensive reading, which consists in reading with full detail the complete text. By this stage we should be writing annotations in the margin, noting the keywords or main concepts which we must remember later. We must also look up the unknown vocabulary in the dictionary; underline the important ideas and the fundamental concepts. Designing a scheme of contents or a summary is the best way to join the underlined concepts with the main ideas.
By this stage it is necessary not to get distracted by events that may occur in the surroundings or in the place where we are studying. Concentration will help retain the concepts. That is why studying in a private place is definitely recommended –the advice is to go somewhere separated from the rest of the house, a quiet, isolated place; if not available, it could be our own bedroom-.
The annotations are the notes, marks, signs and words written on the margin of the text which express the main ideas. They don’t have to be the exact same words of the text, since many times we have to replace them by our own. The scheme of contents is a graphic and hierarchic way of expressing the ideas of the issue we are studying.
The summary consists of extracting from the text everything we want to know and fix as acquired knowledge. Finally, we proceed to memorize the information, which means fixing in our memory the facts we want to remember.