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Appreciation is a very simple but powerful technique for extracting the maximum amount of information from a simple fact.

Starting with a fact, ask the question 'So what?' - i.e. What are the implications of that fact? Keep on asking that question until all possible inferences have been drawn.

Appreciation is a technique used by military planners, so we will take a military example:

  • Fact: It rained heavily last night
  • So What?
  • The ground will be wet
  • So What?
  • It will turn into mud quickly
  • So What?
  • If many troops and vehicles pass over the same ground, movement will be progressively slower and more difficult as the ground gets muddier and more difficult.
  • So What?

Where possible stick to metal way or expect movement to be slower than normal.

While it would be possible to reach this conclusion without the use of a formal technique, appreciation provides a framework within which inferences can be extracted quickly and effectively.

As you answer them, you will help to make sense of the material and remember it more easily because the process will make an impression on you. Those things that make impressions are more meaningful, and therefore more easily remembered. Don't be afraid to write the questions in the margins of textbooks, on lecture notes, or wherever it makes sense.

Ask questions for learning. The important things to learn are usually answers to questions. Questions should lead to emphasis on the what, why, how, when, who and where of study content. Ask the questions as you read or study. Thinking about reading. Before going any further, we suggest you read this advice sheet first because it lists some crucial questions about reading. These questions help you identify the needs for improving reading, and the reading materials that you enjoy. It also gives some tips on how to solve the speed reading problems.

Be an active reader

Before you even look at the text, and as you scan it and read it, ask the question, "What am I going to learn here? What is the author's conclusion? How does the author present the topic? What are the key points to the argument?" Such questions (they would be tailor-made to the type of reading you are doing, and the reason for which you are doing it) function to engage you in the activity. If you ask a question in a lecture, you always remember the answer to the question. Similarly, if you become an 'active reader' you are much more likely to retain the information that you amass.

Answer the questions at the end of the chapter.

Answer these question in other words: What's the author talking about? What does the author want me to get out of this? Read the entire piece, then write a one paragraph or one sentence summary. Transcribe the notes in the book or handwritten notes into more formal notes on the computer. Turn the first notes into a list of ideas or a short essay. Review the ideas in the text after you finish reading. Ask the questions to determine what you got out after reading. Mark up the text, bring it to class, and ask questions about what you don't understand. Post an email to the class Mailing List and ask for responses from the teacher and fellow students. Consult another source. What does another author have to say on the same topic? Disagree with the author. Become a devil's advocate. Remember, you don't have to believe an idea to argue about it.

Think about the text in three ways. 1. Consider the text itself, the basic information right there on the page. (This is the level of most high school readers and many college students.) 2. Next think about what is between the lines, the conclusions and inferences the author means you to draw from the text. 3. Finally, go beyond thinking about the text. What creative, new, and different thoughts occur as you combine the knowledge and experiences with the ideas in the reading?

Get to your exam table with enough time so that you can set yourself up and close the eyes for a minute to 3 and enter the Accelerated Learning State. State some positive affirmations/intentions for the exam. You can use the week or 2 prior to the exam to practice entering the accelerative learning state and stating your intention to handle the exams well and to obtain the best passing grade as a result.

Remember the tangerine You'll find it most useful here if you should happen to feel that the exams are a bit distractive. And the tangerine applies to all reading so remember to use it.

Question while you are surveying:

  • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions;

  • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading;

  • Ask the question, "What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?"

  • Ask the question, "What do I already know about this subject?"

Note: If it is helpful to you, write out these questions for consideration. This variation is called SQW3R. The SQ3R method has been a proven way to sharpen study skills. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Take a moment now and write SQ3R down. It is a good slogan to commit to memory to carry out an effective study strategy.

Stop reading periodically to recall what you have read. Try to recall main headings, important ideas of concepts presented in bold or italicized type, and what graphs charts or illustrations indicate. Try to develop an overall concept of what you have read in other and thoughts. Try to connect things you have just read to things you already know. When you do this periodically, the chances are you will remember much more and be able to recall material for papers, essays and objective tests.

Reading critically

If you are not satisfied with basic understanding of a text, this advice sheet will give you some ideas on how to read between the lines. In other words, you will be able to distinguish opinions from facts; and you will be able to form your own judgment on the issues raised in a text. This advice sheet will also give you advice on how to make use of text organization to understand a text.

Test yourself.

Stop at the end of each "section" of material and recall periodically what you have just read. Especially in material which you must remember for a period of time, practice reading quickly and efficiently with the intent to recall the important information at the end of each chapter or section or paragraph--depending upon the difficulty of the material. Make notes or underline if appropriate.

Recite after you've read a section:

  • Ask the questions about what you have just read and/or summarize, in other words, what you read

  • Take notes from the text but write the information in other words

  • Underline/highlight important points you've just read

  • Use the method of recitation which best suits of the particular learning style but remember, the more senses you use the more likely you are to remember what you read - i.e.,

Triple learning strenght: Seeing, saying, hearing, writing.


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