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

Responses: 26


Updated December 13, 2009

When reading a book (or a report for work or school, etc.) do you ever find yourself at the end of a page and realize you have no idea what you've just read? You are not alone. Many people with ADHD - and even those without - struggle with reading and remembering. Please share your own experiences, as well as strategies that help you comprehend, focus, and recall when reading. Share Your Strategies

Suggested Reading Strategy

There is nothing like highlighters to help guide your attention to the important points of what you are reading, but I need to take it one step further in order for it to sink into my mind and understanding. In a notebook, I write down what I have highlighted and as I am writing I say the words out loud to help me keep my mind from wondering. Also, for me, I need an absolutely quiet area or room, where I can be by myself because this reduces distractions down to a minimum.
—Guest Adrienne

Reading and Remembering

I've always been a slow reader. I use Post-Its to remember characters and their relationships to other characters. Post-Its are useful to remember main events in books I read for pleasure (usually fiction). I keep them in the front of the book as constant reminders of content I want to remember.
—Guest CoachRoche

Calming Music (Sans Lyrics)

Recently, I discovered that listening to instrumental music--specifically, classical and jazz--helps me to remain focused and block out my family's chatter/tv noise when I'm studying. I can't read when listening to singing, as the words being sung distract me from the words on the page. Also, the music must be serene; nothing too loud, erratic, or discordant. I'm truly grateful for this recent discovery.
—Guest Dawn

Running My Finger Along Words as I Read

I tend to lose my place a lot when I am reading. I like the idea of using a bookmark or ruler under each line. Right now I use my finger to run under each of the words. It helps me keep my place on the page a little better.
—Guest Ben

Study Techniques

I was diagnosed with extreme ADHD one month after completing my education and becoming a professor at a large community college. I taught my classes the study techniques that helped me. Many came back semesters later to report grade improvement (with or without ADD). Many people’s comprehension problems are because they treat all words as equally important. They don’t distinguish critical from filler. As a student, I observed the author’s writing style. Most state the topic in the paragraph’s first sentence. Then they fill the remainder of the paragraph clarifying the topic. I used a yellow highlighter for critical sentences and when reviewing, only read highlighted text. It usually explained the topic. If I understood it, I went to the next paragraph. The study time was reduced by at least 80%. I used pink to highlight material used by instructors since they felt it was important. Reviewing the pink text, I searched for related text to better understand the topics.

Reading Tips

I agree with many above, but particularly with JW Plante who is using a technique similar to what I and also a friend use (however, he has some even better additions, re the pink h/light). I use yellow for important overview/theory, and write, plus type my own notes, and a friend "low-lights" in dark blue "confusing babble" that over-explains the info. (lol) My books are all heavily notated, and I need multiple reconstructions to get info into the long-term memory, sometimes these are discussions and case studies with other learners although that sometimes dislodges the info I haven't captured totally. I like to learn alone first, jointly a little, then alone again. That is the ONLY way I can function, and I still fight it out with my faculty lecturers who feel it is OK to provide learning materials overnight for work shopping the next day. (sigh)
—Guest Creatingchange


Whatever you read, give it an imagination, be concentrated towards what you are reading, and try to create pictures with in your mind. Initially, it will be difficult, but later on you would be able to remember all that you read. Read, think, imagine, connect and then after completing (say 1 paragraph) try to recollect all. Bottom line: Just follow what you do when preparing for exams.
—Guest V K Gupta

Remembering what u read

Remembering what you read will be determined by your way of reading. my experience of reading is just by realizing what i am reading through asking question to my self and answering by my self and also writing what i memorize.
—Guest tomy

Reading is drawing

Reading for me is also writing and drawing. I have to copy the words several times. When I draw I have to think differently about what I'm reading. How can the concepts be broken down into something that can be drawn? How much of a "scene" is necessary? I usually only use drawing quality a notch or two above stick figures unless my mind tells me I need more detail. Having to boil down what's being said in order to translate it into pictures helps my mind wrap around the new info and marble it into what I already have in there. I remember what I read very well most of the time but I have to be careful not to "dream up" new content while I'm drawing. New ideas develop and I have to shut them off. If I don't remember outright as soon as I see a trigger most of it comes back. The trick I didn't think of was that I'm allowed to use triggers. Reading like normal isn't possible for me. Well so anyways I've recently been learning graphic novel writing. It's great if you have sequencing problems.
—Guest unrapid reader

Reading Along to an Audiobook

The only strategy that works for me when reading literature (I live in Switzerland and study English Literature), is to listen to the audiobook and read along in the book. Luckily you can find many audiobooks on YouTube. Since I found out that this works for me, I have enjoyed reading much more. (I am currently reading "Our Mutual Friend" by Charles Dickens. More than 900 pages. A year ago I would have problably not even tried to read such a book.)
—Guest Viola

Read like a teacher!

When I read something important, I read it with the eyes of the teacher. What do I want the students (myself) to learn from this? What is most important? What is being said here? What part of this best supports the topic? Then I make notes to myself as if I am preparing the materials to teach it.

Read paragraph wise

Take one paragraph memorize and try keep on memorization it will work your own ways
—Guest suresh H k

remembering what i have just read

For myself, I try to read it time after time and try to think and review it by saying alone, writing on whiteboard, notebook, paper, and talk to friend about it.
—Guest visal

Whatever works for you.

The most important technique I try to use is taking notes, so that I can have the visual stimulation. On top of that I reword the content in my own words, as a mental exercise to reinforce what I've already read. The best way for me to remember anything is to correlate the content to something I've already understood. This will help you make the connection between your long term and short term memory banks.
—Guest Lotto

Ear plugs

When I want to read and there are distractions, I put in ear plugs I get at the hardware store. They reduce noise by about 28 decibels which leaves only muffled voices. Plugs mostly cut out the high frequencies such as rustling paper, whispering, etc. Also, listening to instrumental music through headphones with the ear plugs in, I hear no outside noise at all.
—Guest dad2323

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Tricks for Remembering What You've Just Read

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