Whatever is not in the mind, is not known, hence it is not knowledge. Therefore, a student must memorise as much as he can. How many times are we discussing something we read the night before but cannot recall what we read? The problem is we do not know how to retain information! The following are 10 tips on how to retain more of what we read.
1. Read with a pen in your hand. Underline or circle key words as you read. Put a star in the margin next to key phrases. When you review the book at a later date this will make for quick recall of the points that were most significant to you.
2. Develop a code to flag important points in the text. If there is a quote you want to capture and record in a quote file, place a big “Q” in the margin and then underline the quote. If you find something you want to research further, place an “R” on the side. An “A” for an article idea the information triggered or a “B” for a blog idea. Come up with your own code for quick reference when you skim back through the book.
3. Summarise each chapter or even each paragraph in your own words and write the brief summary in the margin. This forces you to grasp the author’s key points and helps to lock it in your memory.
4. Share your thoughts in your daily journal. This process helps you think through the content and relate it to your everyday life. The process of thinking and writing helps you gain deeper understanding.
5. Post a comment in a forum with a brief synopsis of the book. Just put it in your own words rather that type the information from the front flap. This may generate some interest from your friends and invite questions and conversations. The more you talk about the book the more information you will retain its information.
6. Use the information you gain in conversations, your work, your teaching, writing, etc., as soon after you read it as possible. This also reinforces the information you’ve read.
7. Tell someone about the book you are reading. Tell them why you like it and describe some of the key points to a friend. Look for opportunities to relate the information in conversations you have with others and refer to actual passages in the book.
8. Join a reading group to discuss the book with others. Getting other people’s perspective helps to solidify what you are reading and gives you even greater insight into the content. The interaction also helps to increase your retention.
9. Write a book review once you’ve read the book and publish it in a local newsletter at your work, school or local masjid. When you write about the book most likely you will refer back to key pages and the notes you wrote which serves as an excellent review.
10. The more you engage with the book’s contents the more you will retain for future use.
By Mufti Faraz Adam (Darul Fiqh)