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Old 11-30-05, 07:29 PM
Nocturnal Nocturnal is offline

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I can't remember what I just read

For school I have to read a lot of text books. I can read an entire chapter then come to the chapter questions for the book and I won't know the answer. It's as though I read all that but nothing sank in. I notice this is happening a lot. I have to go back and re-read the material and even then I can't answer every single questions properly without having to go and look it up. The problem is, I have to take a test without using a book and the questions are very similar in nature to the ones that are in the book. If I can't even remember it while I'm reading the book with the book with me, how am I going to remember it for the test?

I'm talking remembering several chapters at a time. I really don't know what will be on the final exam. It could be two out of the five chapters, it could be five out of the five chapters that I am tested on. I really don't know nor does the teacher tell us.

I have already been diagnosed with ADD and take Adderall 20mgx2 but still, I still cannot recall what I just read like most people can. It's as though I'm brain damaged and or very stupid. How does someone just recall the information so easily and myself, I can't even recall it even though I JUST READ IT!

I'm just looking for advice and some solutions that may help in my situation if you've been there before or know someone who has been. I hope I'm not really stupid as I would love to get a degree in Computer Science which I am pursuing.

Thank you for your time.
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Old 11-30-05, 07:46 PM
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I teach undergrads and am a cognitive psychologist -- we study things like attention, learning and memory. Maybe I can help you.

There are 2 problems to consider and they have different solutions. First, you need to be able to demonstrate what you know. If your school has a department that deals with accomodations for students with diabilities, you should pay them a visit. Extra time on tests and the like may help you get onto paper what you have learned.

Second, in order to get it out, you've got to get it in. First, passive reading is a waste of time. You should be reading the material, taking notes, and asking yourself questions ALL ALONG. Don't go on to the next paragraph unless you're sure you've gotten the gist of the current one. Try to connect all new information with something you already know -- avoid trying to memorize.

Some ways to actively learn:

Paraphrase main points; put them into your own words, then write them down.

Space out material -- repeated exposure to material over time increases your ability to recall it A LOT. Rather than trying to cram it all in, do a little each day, repeating the main points from the previous day.

Sleep -- Lots of research in the past decade has shown us that sleep is essential for consolidating memory. Don't sacrifice sleep for studying; it will not help.

Study groups -- I've found that students who study together do the best. If you get together with a couple of students from each class and divided up the chapters, each of you summarizes one. Then, you get together and teach yours to the others. This ensures you'll know at least one chapter VERY well.

Use all your resources -- student who use study guides and online summaries of their text books do better.

Good luck.

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-Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
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Old 11-30-05, 07:46 PM
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Give active reading a try. What you have to do is preview what you need to read, looking at chapter and section titles as well as the chapter summary if possible. Then as you read each paragraph ask yourself how it is supporting what the sections and chapter is trying to get a crossed. Actively looking for evidence to support the opinion you gained from the preview is a great way to stay focused on the material and hopefully remember what you are reading.

BTW, I’m a CS junior and the problem you are describing is one of the many problems I have with reading.

Good luck,

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Old 11-30-05, 07:53 PM
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Hey Nocturnal!

Even with meds I still have difficulty remembering. It's better, but not great.

I do several things - which takes time, but usually I don't have to read over and over.

If I have time, I read the article/chapter one time, go through a second time and take notes that I think will be important to know.

If I don't have time, I read the article/chapter and take notes the first time through.
I usually take more notes than what are needed - because I didn't get the first run through, but it still works.

For me - doing both these things is key because I am hitting visual (reading) and verbal (writing) learning modes.
Sometimes, if I'm really stuck, I'll read out loud.

Then, I just go over the notes I've written a few times to ensure I've learned (or am learning) the material.

I hope this helps you, Nocturnal!

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Old 11-30-05, 08:38 PM
JHarman16 JHarman16 is offline
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Some things that I have at least thought doing for the same problem are books on tape, you would be surprised at the amount of schools that offer this sometimes you just have to ask disability office and if they don't contact the publisher of the book because they usually do this for all book, also I find it best if I read the material before class and summarize it, then go to class and write down and document what the teacher emphasizes in class, then reread the book and focus extra time on what the professor spent time on. It can be a bit of work but I started to do that at the beginning of the semester, DX'd in summer on adderall and Dexedrine, that I have dramatically improved note taking, listening, and reading comprehension even though I still cringe when I am assigned reading. I am fortunately in engineering some reading is not that important
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Old 11-30-05, 08:58 PM
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I have to use more than one modality to remember things. Just reading cover to cover style does not work for me at all. I find mind maps very helpful. I also read the questions at the end of the chapters before I start reading so I know what it is I am looking for.
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Old 11-30-05, 09:52 PM
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when it come to studing and reading Iam at a loss.Today was the wrorst day of my college career. one thing after another and they expect me to beable to remember hugh. I dont think so. I almost dropped all of my classes. And I am only having a hard time in one the others I am just behind. I wish i had someone to teach me what to do to understand the material. I need a coach or friend to help me I cant do this alone.

A child's mind is like a shallow brook which ripples and dances merrily over the stony course of its education and reflects here a flower, there a bush, yonder fleecy cloud... -Helen Keller

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Old 12-03-05, 12:58 AM
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Hello Nocturnal,

I actually practiced a lot of Barb's suggestions as a student and found those habits to be quite helpful.

The most useful tactics for me:

1. Taking very thorough notes on everything - paraphrasing in my own words to make sure you really understand and paid attention. This is time consuming, but it really helps, even if you never look at the notes again.

2. Studying with a friend. After reading the material and attempting to "quiz" myself or do the homework problems, I would always meet with the same friend to go through the material and finish the homework together. Don't be shy about asking your study buddy to explain what you don't understand or tell you what he/she thought was important to understand.

3. Get old exams and work on the problems. Don't just read it and look at the answers to see if they make sense, but really take the exam, and then check your answers and make sure you understand them. This is a good way to discover what you really do or don't know.

4. Talk to your professor. Do not be shy about asking for help or another explanation. It's his/her job. Do not be shy about asking for extra study materials, old homework problems, or old exams to help you study.

This was essentially how I got through undergrad, and I didn't know I had ADD then.
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Old 12-03-05, 03:59 AM
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Hi Nocturnal,

What type of subjects are you taking.... When I was in college, I started out taking lots of science courses, and wasn't that great at them--not because I didn't understand the concepts, but because I couldn't remember all the details from the reading. Anyways, I think the suggestions above are really useful....
One thing that has always helped me is to make the subject matter interesting--find a hook in it, maybe create a storyline, anything that at least sparks some interest in the material.

Study groups can do wonders--I don't know what I would have done without them.

And as a last resort, consider your major, and figure out if that's really what you want to do for the rest of your life (or at least a chunk of it). I eventually decided to switch to a major that focused more on conceptual thinking and writing (communication major) and did really well.

Let us know how you of luck!
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Old 12-04-05, 08:02 PM
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I am also a college student and am just learning how to start reading actively and have always had a problem remembering what I just read. I have found 2 things that have helped me in doing this: 1) Highliting things with different colors, like main points one, other important parts another and the details one more. Not only is this colorful and makes it fun and more active, but if you need to reread something, there is a bunch of stuff you dont have to look over again. 2) Taking notes while you read. Although I dont do this most of the time when I read, when I do, it has amazing effects, my only problem is to motivate myself to do it. Overall, the more I involve myself in my reading, the more I am going to retain. I have gone pages before and realized I have had no idea what has gone on. Also, over the christmas break, i would look at either purchasing Learning Outside The Lines by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole, disability services let me borrow it from them this semister and it has cut my studying time by a substantial amount and the amount of information I retain much higher. I think that is what I have to say, besides, try what works for you, experiment, if it doenst work for you, then try something else, dont continue with a bad system.
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Old 11-25-10, 01:00 AM
e.penrose1 e.penrose1 is offline

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Re: I can't remember what I just read

I have not the funds to go to the doctor, what if one has not been diagnosed and the school will not do anything to help my reading problem.
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Old 12-05-10, 07:53 PM
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Re: I can't remember what I just read

I am in the same camp. I could have read the same paragraph several times but come back later reread the same exact chapter and still not know what it's trying to convey. As others have said, I've finally come to realize that passive reading does absolutely nothing for me. I try to have something like Word open so that when I'm reading through chapters of a textbook, I try to summarize in my own words every other paragraph of so what the gist is.

Reading out loud doesn't work for me. I actually get distracted by the sound of my own voice!! As JHarman16 mentioned, look into getting audio books. Are you getting any accommodations from school? I first was getting just accommodations for exams but as I worked more with my school's office of disability services and told them that one of my big hindrances was reading, we tried audio books and while I can't say that it completely solved everything, it does help. Even if the publisher doesn't have direct audio books, look into TTS (text-to-speech) software that will read it for you. The voices take a big to get used to, but once you get used to it, it can be beneficial.

e.penrose, what do you mean your school will not do anything to help? There has to be some kind of resource you can use. Look into community centers for doctors. They are usually substantially cheaper, or maybe even sometimes free. When I got my first evaluation, it was supposed to cost something like a few hundred dollars but got it waived down to $10-20 because of my financial situation.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:42 PM
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Re: I can't remember what I just read

I think there are some really good suggestions here. I'm sure that actually paraphrasing what you're reading as you go along would be a great way to comprehend material, but I know personally, it just takes too long for me - I'd never be able to get through it all that way.

One thing that really works for me is reading out loud... Twinkies said that the sound of his voice distracts him, but I do it very quietly under my breath. For some reason, it helps me to focus on one word at a time so that I can make sense of the sentence.
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Old 01-10-11, 11:31 PM
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Re: I can't remember what I just read

Ok, so after lurking this forum, I found 2 pieces of advice that help me a lot on THIS forum!! So let me just take a moment to say thankyou. I forgot which users suggested this.

#1) READ BACKWARDS. This actually helped me pay more attention. Reading the last paragraph first!

#2) B.ullet P.oint R.eading. This is from something called "Gauranteed 4.0". I did not buy the book and I am currently trying to get a free webinar, but I found free material on the technique. BPR means as you read each section, write bullet points (that have only 3 -5 words) on each section. Before you move on to the next section, read your bullet points. Do the same for the next section. Before you go to the section after that read all the previous bullet points. This was super effective, but time consuming. Guess its worth it if you need to remember stuff!

#3) (not from this forum) SURVEY BEFORE YOU READ. I got this from random study classes. Read headers, key words, first paragraph, last paragraph and topic sentences before you dive in.

Hope this helped.
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Old 01-15-11, 01:00 AM
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Re: I can't remember what I just read

I can read and get through so many pages, and then realize that my eyes have been moving and my hands have been turning the pages... but have no idea when my attention dropped off. ><

I find a combination of highlighting and flashcards works for me.
Tater is right - highlighting is fun and makes your books all pretty-like.

You can go to any office supply store and grab packs of flashcards for a few bucks. They have saved my life. For each paragraph or two, find the most important point, and make a flashcard out of it.

The act of writing down the fact is a big part of me remembering it. And then testing myself with the cards later makes it better.

Then when you wanna go back and study for a test, you'll have an organized pile of facts with no filler. yay!
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