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Readers Respond: Tricks for Remembering What You've Just Read

Responses: 26


Updated December 13, 2009

Go Faster

This is what works for me. Since my attention is limited, I don’t try and remember something I’m reading but skim the document as fast as I can picking along the way the words or expressions that give me the feel – the soul of it, also key words. These shards of thought register in my emotions or urgency part of my memory, depending on my need for the knowledge is how it’s registered. Thus when I access that feeling the document which is registered as important returns to me. At that point I will access all recorded real time knowledge at my disposal, i.e. notes, computer history, site pages, and then I will clarify my interest by paying attention. Kinda long, but okay. Also, I do use the cursor to fly through the sentence thus keeping my attention on the one line – my finger in place of a cursor if I am reading from a book.


I am interested and comforted to hear that some listen to music. I thought I was even more "crazy” because I do the same thing, only I listen to the faded in the background words of the music. At least my subconscious does. Words that I already trust and believe in what they are saying seem to calm my brain to maintain what I am reading. It seems like multi-tasking but it works for me. The more my brain has the work the better it seems to be. Try to read when you are not tired and your brain is at its most alert time. I immediately process the information to what I think about it making it personal and a part of what I stand for or not. I do believe in knowing who I am and what I believe in, so not to follow just any voice or opinion. Some things even though you cannot remember the whole thing that you are reading you can remember your "own definition to what you read." Highlighters, notes are great, too.

Spend More Time on Understanding

When I was in school I started to spend more time on studying. I put lines under the words while reading and spent a long time on the paragraphs to understand each well so it helps me in memorizing things. If the subject is difficult I draw diagrams for better illustration. All these things compensate the problem of bad concentration. But the problem that happened when I moved to the university is that the things in my life became wider and bigger, and I lost the ability to spend all my day and night on studying and reading and this affected my study and performance. Actually, I solved my problem when I was in school but I then failed with it after that.

Trick Yourself

I have this problem where I forget or skip lines, words, etc. One key thing that helps me is not only speaking out loud but in character voices - almost like a teacher-like voice as if explaining it or reading it to a classroom by hearing myself in a different tone or accent even. It becomes a little more fun interesting and even more engaging and easier to remember. Give it a try English accent. Strict and bold character or kind sweet gentle tone for question and different tone voice for answers if reading this style of study book. With stories the characters can all have their own voices you can make up. Even the narrations. It can be like an actor acting out the story. Helps to develop a mental picture.
—Guest Misty

Find the Main Idea

When I read a paragraph I just ask myself “what is the main thing given here?” It’s almost always one thing and all the other words are woven around it. I read faster than before.
—Guest giahan

For Testing Read the Questions First

Knowing what you're looking for makes it easier to understand the story.
—Guest chris

Get the Gist

Usually we forget the forest in search of woods. So it is recommended to never to forget it. See through the content and think in a line about what this piece of writing is all about. Then start reading and every time you feel lost just remember the gist of what you have noted down. Also, it can happen that there is more than one central idea in a single piece of writing, usually starting in a new paragraph. Just write it down and follow the above step of reminding yourself of the gist every time you feel lost.
—Guest Nishant kumar

Memorizing Lines

I was diagnosed with ADHD about five years ago when I was 50 years old. Although, as I look back now at my life, based on what I now know, it is quite obvious that I have had this condition all my life. For reading, as I am sure most of you have discovered, I put my bookmark under each line and move it down the page as I read. It keeps me focused. As someone who has recently gone back into acting, I find that it is very difficult to learn lines quickly. This is most applicable to plays as opposed to film. Does anyone have any strategies for learning and memorizing lines for plays? Some of the techniques mentioned in this week's article are suggestions for line memorization.
—Guest Bob

Outlining, Flagging, Bouncing, Mozart!

With a textbook, I outline as I go if there will be a test. If there will be a paper to write, I tend to use post-it flags. I hate the look of highlighter in books, but it is useful in reading Xeroxed articles; however, it only helps me later when I come back to it, rather than helping me to remember at the time. Illustrating, when possible, works well. Summarizing for myself is also helpful. I also always try to sit in a place where I can wiggle, move around, kick my feet, or whatever else it takes. Mozart (wordless) is a great study aid!
—Guest Sarah

I Guess I Feel Differently...

I'm 52 years old now but recall in early or mid grade school trying to read, feeling pressured by the speed that I knew the others had and how slow I was. I still am a slow reader. I remember looking at the page and seeing the letters and words disappear in spots. It was like a drop of bleach had completely faded spots 1/2" or larger...not in the center of vision necessarily but moving around as I moved my eyes to another place on the page. Now THAT was a distraction! I would close my eyes, shake my head to get focused again and I had to sort of "resist" the mindset I had, probably anxiety that I did not understand at the time. Eventually, I suppose I over-compensated reading at the pace a person would speak according to the emotion and setting. One day when asked to read in HS sophomore English, I decided to (jocularly as always) "act" like an "actor" doing a dramatic reading. Oddly enough, I was somewhat embarrassed but must have picked up on a positive skill for helping my reading.
—Guest theant

Focus on Each Line

When I was in elementary school about....20 years ago, they noticed I could not read very well. They put me in a resource class that helped me read and remember what I read. The thing that helped the most was a tool they made for me from construction paper. They cut a slit in it about as wide as a sentence as tall as the letters. It helped me stay focused on one area of a page at a time. I find it hard to focus on a sentence sometimes because of all the words and letters on a page.
—Guest Trevor

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Tricks for Remembering What You've Just Read

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