“I read this last night! How come I can’t remember it?”
“The word is already on the tip of my tongue! Why can’t I recall it?”
“I remember reading this article. How come I forgot what it is about?”
Do these lines sound familiar? Perhaps you uttered these during a conversation or in the middle of your graded History recitation or English periodic test in school. This situation can make you feel uneasy. Sometimes, if it gets the best of you, it will demotivate you or affect your confidence.
But you’re not the only one experiencing this. While we have evolved to remember important things, our brains have also developed over time to drop out some memory all too easily. While studying this matter, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus came up with a memory model called the Forgetting Curve. He found out that if we do not work on retaining information, it will eventually slip out of our memory.
To improve your reading retention, here are helpful tips that you can try:
Ask yourself, ‘Why?’
Before picking up your book, it would help to narrow down your purpose and determine what you want to achieve after the reading activity. This will not only motivate you but will also prepare your mind to store incoming information.
Read a summary or skim the book first
Now that you’re all set, ease your way into the book by browsing its contents or reading a summary. Scanning the book will serve as your base and guide as you go. Apart from piquing your interest and excitement, it will also give you a better idea of what you are about to read.
Try to read out loud
Try using the power of your mind and voice at the same time. Instead of reading silently, try reading aloud.
In a study by a team of psychologists led by Colin Macleod in Canada, reading and hearing yourself greatly impact your memory. Macleod says that an active measure (like reading aloud) helps things become more memorable and distinct in long-term memory.
Highlight or write notes
Just like reading aloud, writing important points could help improve your retention.
You may write down your thoughts in a separate notebook or highlight key passages from what you’ve just read. This way, it will also serve as your guide if you need to use it as a resource material in the future.
Share your learnings
Whether it’s a novel or an educational reading material, sharing your learning would also help retain the story. This is like hitting two birds with one stone: you get to enhance your memory and have fun while doing it.