How to remember what you read, step one

Step one: Find things that are worth remembering

Super-summaries will do this for you, but you should do it in too in your own reading.

Every article or book-chapter tries to make a point. There will usually be one best fact or argument to demonstrate that point. Look for it. Identify it. Try to remember it. Here’s what I do…

  • I highlight memorization candidates as I read.
  • The first candidate I encounter becomes the thing I will try to memorize (until I find a better one).
  • Then I apply the memory devices described in steps two through five of this super-summaries series.

This one practice will take you from remembering almost none of what you read, to at least remembering the most important thing from every article or book chapter.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be other things worth remembering. It just means that you want to find and focus on the most important item. You can certainly try to remember other things in addition to that one most important thing, but don’t sacrifice the crucial for the marginal. The effort to find the best demonstration of the writer’s point will also improve your comprehension.

If you’re going to remember two things…

Try to find and identify the best argument against the writer’s point. And if the writer doesn’t make note of any counterarguments, that’s bad. It should increase your skepticism of what you’re reading.

Step two: test yourself soon after reading

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