Have you ever been studying, reading your notes, gotten to the bottom of the page and thought “What have I just read? I have no freaking clue”?

Let’s be honest. This probably happens to you pretty often. 

So what do you do when this happens to you? Do you re-read it or do you just say “Oh well…” and turn to the next page?

My bet is that you probably turn the page. 

What I’m going to be sharing in this article is why you should never, EVER just read as a form of study ever again.

This might sound intense, but it’s really significant way to enhance the effectiveness of your study.

So let’s jump in and find out why!

So, why are you reading your notes when you’re studying?

The reason you re-read and flick through your notes is because it’s EASY. And it allows you to tell yourself that you’ve just studied.

But, truth be told, you’re not actually taking much information in by just reading, because reading is a passive form of learning.

You’ve got to study in an active way that keeps your brain in gear and engaged!

That’s why you need a new number one rule for your study:

Never Only Just Read.

If you’re only reading you are not studying effectively. In fact, memory retention from reading (meaning, what you actually remember from reading) over a 2 week period is only 10%.

It feels productive, but you’re only really retaining 10% of what you’ve read.

So, what should you be doing instead?

Step 1: Keep a Pen Handy

Obviously you still need to read while you’re studying, but add something to the reading to help keep your brain engaged and make the learning more active.

A simple thing you can do is to keep a pen handy so you can jot down notes, mark key ideas, draw diagrams, flow-charts and acronyms and fill the margins of the page!

This helps you engage with the material while you’re reading and will help you retain much more information than just reading alone.

You can even take this one step further!

Step 2: Make Notes in an Exercise Book

While you’re reading through your notes, have an exercise book or paper with you so you can summarise the information, make notes and diagrams, anything that will help you remember the content actively.

For example, when I was in Law School, there was a huge amount of information I needed to learn and remember. So, I would fill lots fo exercise books with notes that I made while reading.

I would write down key ideas in my own words, diagrams, flow charts, notes to explain concepts and relationships.

But here’s the thing:

I never really read those notes again.

The point of writing the notes down was not to summarise a summary and make more notes, but to actually engage my brain in the content to help me learn and remember it.

You can even take this strategy up a level!

Step 3: Teach Someone Else

By teaching someone else, you can’t zone out and stop paying attention, because the person you’re teaching will notice.

This is a really easy and simple way to actively learn the content you’re trying to understand and remember, because you need a really strong grasp of a concept to teach it to someone else.

In other words, if you’re going to  teach a concept to someone you need to understand it well.

So, it allows you to actively study, and it’s an opportunity to identify content you’re not confident in yet, because you won’t be able to teach it well (yet!).

Looking for extra help with your study and exam skills?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!


Isabella Hanley is the Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the Year 12 in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and hanging out with her awesome rescue dog, Ruby.