Read the Text

Reading to Answer a Question

Having surveyed the chapter, you are ready to start reading, reducing and recording the material. This involves reading each paragraph or section to answer a question. Reading to answer a question increases your concentration and learning by keeping you actively involved.

Start with the question, "What is the main idea in this paragraph?" As you read the paragraph using this approach, try to hold the questions in the back of your mind, and then read to find the answers. When you find the answer, pause to make sure you understand it completely, and then continue reading to identify the examples and explanations. (You also want to see if the main idea is restated further down in the paragraph in a more comprehensive or understandable manner.) Once you understand a paragraph and are able to identify the main idea and relevant supporting details, you need to make a reduced record of the information you want to learn. Once this record has been created, you will use it as a basis for your studying in the future.

Watch for Clues

When reading your text or other assigned material (or listening to a lecture), watch for words that will give you clues as to the importance of the information that precedes or follows.

  • for instance, to illustrate, for example - suggest an example of a point made
  • in the meantime, prior, subsequently, formerly, before, after - suggest a time-focused relationship between two or more ideas
  • also, in addition, furthermore - suggest an important addition to a main idea
  • accordingly, therefore, if - then, as a result - suggest causal relationships between ideas
  • conversely, although, in contrast to, on the other hand - suggest a new and different idea about what has already been stated
  • first, second, next, finally, the six steps - suggest a number or series of ideas
  • most significant, more importantly, above all, remember - suggest important information will follow
  • in essence, in other words, that is, it really means - suggest an alternate way of presenting an idea that may be easier to understand
  • but, yet, however - suggest that there is something more to an idea presented
  • in summary, to close, in a nutshell, in conclusion - suggest the highlights of the ideas presented in a brief format

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