How do you read?

A lot of meaning can be read into that question but everything comes down to, there are right ways to read and there are wrong ways to read.

Not understanding that fact is why many read but get results that are comparable to trying to hold water in a basket.

It is the reason why you can read for 12 hours but fares worse than someone who reads for just 3 hours.

Reading like every other meaningful endeavour is work. So we are not surprised that it has its strategies.

You should remember that work seems difficult until the right strategies are found out.

Oh, have we been talking about reading since? Ok, let’s talk about the study.

Studying is quite different from reading. The latter involves just scanning over the material whereas study demands the more intense powers of concentration, questioning, and meditating for understanding.

Reading can be done for fun but study less so. The study is often done to gain a thorough grasp of the material in question, something that is not always demanded in reading.

From the above, we can infer that study is more purposeful and as such is more serious.

So let’s dive into studying properly.

Where are people getting it wrong about studying?

Well, in the first place people are not studying, they are reading. So if you’re reading this tell yourself, I want to start studying.

What indicates that you were reading before?

Reading does not let you retain information for long. That is why cramming comes in.

The reader crams. That is his tool to offset the deficiency of reading. But that doesn’t work most of the time.

Ask yourself, why do you read or study? To have the information you can draw upon whenever you read it.

But how well can that happen if you read and cram? When you cram, how long does the information last?

Most times, cramming serves you just once. On the exam day. You don’t remember what you crammed after the exam is over.

That brings out a major flaw of reading and cramming. It is often done with the wrong purpose. How?

One who reads and crams is only thinking in the short term. He doesn’t approach the issue with a long-range view.

He sees only the exam or test coming and most times that’s why reading and cramming is done only a short time to whatever test is brewing.

Another characteristic of reading has come in now. It is done for a short time as opposed to studying which is done for a longer period.

Here is a summary of what we’ve talked about at a glance.

#1. Readers cram, one who studies doesn’t.

#2. Reading and cramming often have short-term success because they are done with a short-term view.

#3. Readers make their effort for a short while, one who studies begins and persists in his effort for much longer.

Therefore, study, don’t read and cram.

But then you may ask, it is exams that often prompt us to read the subjects taught in schools so what’s wrong with reading just for their sake?

Well, that’s fine. But remember, the subjects we are taught and read about often relate to everyday life.

Studying them gives us an edge over others because while others just observe what happens in real life, we that pass through formal education know why these things happen.

Thus, reading just for the sake of passing exams makes us ignore the practical value of what we read in school.

We fail to make the connection with everyday life because we are simply cramming for exams that come once in a while and eventually finish.

Besides, if you’re going to head deep into the educational line to the point of amassing various certificates, you’ll understand better why it’s so important that we study well.

As you advance from one level to another, you will notice that you simply build on previous knowledge. In order words, you advance from levels of difficulty, from the simpler lessons to the more complicated ones.

Now if you don’t study with a long-range view simply cram rather than study, what information will you retain to build on?

That’s what is obvious when students keep quiet when asked thought-provoking questions on a particular topic.

They failed to relate what they are learning to everyday happenings.

Thus this article has been written to address the main problem of studying. We’ll discuss the core principles of proper reading and study.

Several killer tips for study that counts will also be debuted.

This article has been divided into three main sections which break the study down into its four main components.

These sections are labelled before you read, as you read, and after you read.

As you will see, much emphasis is given to making the ideas presented in the material your own.

That’s because whatever we read is not meant to be crammed; rather, it serves as a guide to help us think in new ways. It forces us to get out of a fixed way of thinking so that we can dig into why things happen as they do.

This makes study done properly a very good form of exercise for the brain. Studies show that the brain is like a muscle and if exercised by challenging it to think in new ways will grow stronger.

The kind of slow thinking done in a well-observed study is known as meditation and makes the information we read about become more natural to us.

Before, these new points were strange to us, but careful study coupled with meditation helps us to see that they are just matters of common sense

You see, the goal is to convert the reading material from pieces of unfamiliar text to a story we can easily tell at any time to explain real-life happenings.

Everyone will surely agree that it’s usually very easy to tell the story of an event we witnessed with our eyes.

That’s because what happened is real and vivid and etched a lasting picture or burned a permanent video on our minds and that’s why we can fetch it whenever needed.

That should be the aim of every study session; make the information as real and vivid to you as possible. Let it make a lasting impression on you. In your mind, make a video of all the ideas presented and burn them on your mind.

Before that can happen though, you must understand well how what you read explains what you see playing out in real life. Learn to find the connection between what you already know and what you are about to learn.

With all of that etched in our minds, let’s now dive deep into the study strategies that will help us achieve our aim of the study.

But one more thing before that. Have the….


Read to understand, rather than cram. 

Having adopted the right mindset, you can now start reading. Continue reading for the full strategy.


BEFORE YOU READ  (Prepare your Mind & Body)


Schedule more complex subjects.

and topics for when you feel at your best.

If possible, it can be after a nap.

Avoid heavy foods before you start reading, especially foods that make you feel sluggish or sleepy.

Eat lightly

Select a distraction-free environment with comfortable lighting.

Spend some time revising from what you

learnt before, take a look at the material, note the title, headings and subheadings. 

Take note of how the material is broken up for easy reading. Do some quick reading to scan over the material

The above processes prepare your brain for what’s coming.


AS YOU READ (Forming Connections)

  1. Isolate all the professional terms used. Keep them aside first. Then try

to get the logic or idea behind the point(s) you are presented with. Try to explain the material as simply as possible without all the jargon. You can do all this aloud for better results

  1. When you have done that, take note of the keywords. Remembering them during emergencies like exams can help you form something around them rather than forgetting all you learned
  1. Generally, what you see is easier to remember than plain text. This means you should fix any pictures in the reading material firmly in your mind. First, try to describe the details of the picture then compare your description with what’s written,

If no pictures are provided use what is written to form very vivid mental pictures

  1. Think of real-life objects or processes that resemble what you’re reading

about. The closer the connection, the better. (steps 3 and 4 can be combined)

  1. Try to understand the approach that was taken in describing things. That way, you can fit all the points where they belong.

For example, let’s say you are reading a description of the spirogyra cell. Try to isolate the order in which the parts are described. Is it from the inside and then outwards? Or from outwards inside?

  1. Divide the details into two categories:

what is new and what is readily observable. Reason on how some points are easy to observe without being told. For the new points, learn more about their basis. Then come back after some time and see if you can isolate those new points using only the additional research you made.

  1. Use the “dye and mordant ” method for remembering points you may confuse with one another. The confusing point is the dye and the mordant is an event or fact that is very unlikely to be forgotten.

This means that you simply turn complex or easily confusable facts into true or false, yes or no statements that can be easily remembered simply by linking them to another unforgettable fact.

For example, you are reading that the crop in a bird connects the oesophagus to the gizzard.

Convert it into a true or false statement that looks like this: does the crop connect the oesophagus to the gizzard? Yes if the sky is blue and no if it is not.

You’ll always remember that the sky is blue. So if you are faced with that confusing question again, all you have to do is to remember that you said yes.

Another example: You remembered a certain formula in physics but are not sure if one of the symbols or letters in the formula has a square.

Confirm then convert it into something like this: is there a square with the V in the formula W= ½ CV²? Yes if hydrogen and oxygen give water. No, if they don’t. 

It’s hard to forget that hydrogen and water give water. So you can remember that confusing point simply by remembering if you picked yes or no to the true or false statement. 

The method just discussed is one of the most powerful ways of remembering something. Why? Because new facts stick longer when linked to old, stable memories.

You are simply hooking what you just learned to what has already become everyday knowledge.


AFTER READING (Strengthening and consolidating connections)

  1. Use the method of spaced repetition. In this method, you revise what you have learned at regular intervals. This is the single most important method of remembering what you learned no matter the method you used.

NOTE: To ensure you meet up with this, have a revision timetable separate from your reading timetable. It’s not cool revising immediately before (I didn’t say after) reading. Do you know why?

It might result in an overload for you especially when the subject of revision is different from the subject you want to read.

Also, revision can take up as much time as a whole reading session. So let it have its own space when it won’t shorten the time for your main reading.

  1. Teach others. This way, points stick even more to your brain and you can discover any gaps in your understanding of that topic
  1. Always do all of above the steps at once. When reading, apply them again, then once again and over again,


    NOTE:  The best way to make all these points work is to start applying them when there is still a lot of time (at least 3 months) before exams 


CRITICAL ALERT: The methods listed above for efficient reading work like multi-drug therapy. This means they are most effective when they are applied together in every of your study sessions without leaving anyone out. 



Well done, great reader, you stuck to the end!

After applying all of the strategies above, in your next study sessions, you should be making such remarks as, 

“Wow, now I can see the connection”, “yes, now I see why this is so and not that”!


Remember, you should be able to tell the story of what you see in real life from what you read on paper.


By Fredrick Okumor

08109489422 |

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