A few of you were led to believe,perhaps by somewhat exaggerated title of my post,that I'm suggesting to completely do away with studies.No my friends! its not about shortcuts.Its about using a smarter set of strategies for success.
So here we go!
Send-ups were looming large over 2nd year students.I dropped by at a friend's house for a combine study(I'll refer to her as Lulu).We planned and divided the topic into two portions to be learnt by each one of us and dug our noses deep into
the KLM's embryo.
Anxious to keep up with time-limit (for we were left with a single day!)I tried to give my best shot.Frowning hard I kept jaw joint in full action with the continuous muttering of the words i was reading ;for i fancied
that speaking out loud is a very effective tool for memorization since all the senses are actively involved ;eyes view,tongue speaks,ears listen and occasionally hands put into gestures what mind has perceived. Thus when so many inputs ;
vision,audition,motion, stand knocking at the threshold,the mind is forced to unchain the entrance-gate and lets the info find a secure place in memory.With this notion in mind,i sat reading every line and word with unbiased attention.
With the medical student's instinct to compare,I stole a quick glance at my friend Lulu.She sat laid-back on sofa,her eyes slowly scanning the text,no mutterings,no gestures_she might as well be reading a novel!Shutting my mouth close for it hung open out of surprise,i returned hastily to my set of exercises.
Lulu finished her topic earlier and sat thinking about it while i was busy trying to memorize my portion on first read.Later Lulu explained her topic in simple words with a smooth flow where one event predictably gave way to the next in the
sequence.Though she referred to the book several times for the minor facts and figures but she successfully narrated the 'story of the process'_self explanatory and easy to recall.
I,on the other hand, threw away my 'rutta' at full blown speed;following the headings and sequence of the book.
(Caution! the deatils have been deliberately made a stark shade of black and white for reader's understanding!)
Her seemingly easy manner of study left me downright puzzled!How did she read so quick?How did she make it sound so simple and obvious?I seemed to have struggled double and gained what?a tricky memory that tip toed precariously on
a sharp edge ; with a chasm of all-knowing on one side and blank nothingness on the other!I could predict then and there i would be needing rigorous revisions to retain my own topic whereas hers could be revised in seconds!
Let me spare you of the details of how i managed to grasp the secret of Lulu's style of studying.Let me take you to an insightful journey of tools this anecdote is indicative of.
How to read faster ?
When we were learning to read, our 1st grade teacher made us to read out loud.Once we mastered the skill,we were told to simply sound the words inside our head(a process called sub.vocalization).This is where the progress of our
reading skills ended.There is actually a step further than this.This new level is NOT to sub.vocalize or NOT to hear the words inside your head as you read.
because Sub vocalization consumes more time than is actually required for comprehending the text.You’ll understand a line of text that you looked over in a second, even though it may have taken at least five just to say the words in your head.
In other words comprehension is distinct from sub vocalization.
How to break the habit of sub.vocalization?
Take a book that you haven't read before.
Take a stop watch.
Start 'viewing' or 'scanning' the text (you should able to understand but do NOT sub.vocalize!)
Check how much portion you can View (with understanding) in one minute.
(calculate the your reading rate i.e. words/minutes. Simply count the number of words/line and multiply that with the number of lines you've read)
Next try scanning the text at a higher rate (than your current reading rate) that you can not comprehend.The point is to increase your scanning speed.Understanding is not the point here.
Once you are used to scan the text at a higher rate , slowly you will be able to actually comprehend the text as well at a slightly slower rate.This new rate will be higher than the one you have when you sub vocalize.
How can you Scan the text faster?
Simple! use your index finger to trace the text as your eyes scan it.Slowly scroll along each line,keep your eyes fixed on the tracker as you bring it down and back to next line.
Did i hear a "Ph-ah! not that childish thing again!"
Yeah it can seem silly and waste of time but actually its not!Let me explain.
Our eyes quiver and move around as we shift back and down to the next line.Then eyes take a few moments to readjust plus sometimes we even start
reading the same line! Using a index finger or a pencil tip as a tracker helps you prevent the loss of these few moments (these can come as very costly when you're trying to read faster) plus by moving the tracker faster your eyes can get used to
viweing the text faster than your mind can understand.It also helps you keep your attention focused.
Aha! so this is where i was lacking as compared to Lulu.I never bothered to speed up my reading.I didn't KNOW it could be done. It wasn't a personal talent of hers rather an acquirable skill that can be improved with practice.
Here a quick overview of some other tools she utilized.
LOOK FOR THE BIG PICTURE:
One of the revolutionary oncologists explains his attitude to learning changed with a click of realization that
" Knowledge is divided into subjects only at school, not in nature! "
Similarly concepts are divided into headings and chapters only in books.There is simple story to every process.
So how to glide through the text to form the story?
Every text has two things,
1.a description of a process in a sequence or the STORY
2.Some facts and figures that continuously disturb the flow of this sequence.
On first read your aim should be to get a general idea of what the whole process is about.Build a rough sketch of the underlying story as you proceed. Avoid the temptation to memorize on your first read.
First get an OVERVIEW!
Detect the STORY of the process
Then you may go on to MEMORIZE any way you want.
Are you biting back the exclamation " Barri gal kiti! "
Friends its common sense not so common.
Most of us are tempted to get only that out of the text that is immediately required...the facts and superficial view ; that can help us sail through the exams or viva.We never bother to see past the headings and bullets how all the facts are
linking with each other in a wholesome web.Thats the kind of studying,the superficial one, that requires rigorous revision still you have a fleeing,crumbling memory.It actually consumes more time.We'll see how to do wholesome studying later on.
Imagine a painter.First he draws a very simple sketch.Then adds details to the sketch and lastly the colors.Similarly on first read get a very simple outline of the process.Compare this outline to everything else you know about the subject.If
you're reading about the secretions of intestine,recall how secretions are made in the mouth? in the stomach? Do the compare and contrast.Once you're done,go on for 2nd read look for terms and phrases that still seem unfamiliar.Relate them to
what you already know.
Once you've understood,you can memorize any way you want. When I was busy memorizing naively on 1st read,Lulu was looking for the simple underlying pattern that would help her memeorize it more efficiently on 2nd read.
DUMB DOWN THE CONCEPT !
One of the most efficient ways to learn is to learn as if you were to explain it to a child.Simplify , dumb down the concept so that it seems obvious to you.
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. ~Einstein
To be continued...
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For you, it may be a mere clack click
For me, its a propelling driving kick ! :)