Many of you indicated that you were spending time reading the text. A few of you indicated that you were also outlining. I would like to suggest an alternative approach which encourages "active reading" that I found extremely helpful when I got to college. The analogy is that by surveying the material first and formulating questions, you are creating "files" in your brain in which to put the information. This should make it much easier to retrieve when needed. Try it!

The SQ3R Study System
The SQ3R study system is an organized approach to your textbook learning. Students who use a study system read with greater comprehension and remember more over a period of time. What are the components of the SQ3R system?
The essential rules are condensed into the following formula involving the five specific steps of the study system:
  1. Survey
  2. Question
  3. Read
  4. Recite
  5. Review
The first step is the SURVEY step. This is the process in which you get a quick overview of the material that will be covered in the article or chapter. The survey, which should not take more than 3 or 4 minutes, involves looking over the introductory and concluding paragraphs so that you know what the author intends to cover and reading the subheadings and captions to any pictures, charts or tables. Now you know what the reading selection is all about.
Step two is the QUESTION step. Here you are to take all of the boldface, subheadings in the text and turn them into questions. Write these questions down the right hand side of a sheet of notebook paper, leaving 4 to 5 lines between each question. This is called making advance organizers for the reasoning and gives you a purpose to help keep your mind on what you are doing.
Step three is READ. Now you read the chapter in order to find the answers to your questions. Write these answers on the notebook paper on the left side next to the question. As you do this you are creating a study guide for the chapter which will make your review easier. Make certain that you ask questions that are answered in the reading. If the question you came up with is not answered, change the question. As you become more proficient at this, you may start to notice an interesting phenomenon. The questions that you make up for study may be the same ones that your instructor makes up for the exam. In effect, you are predicting exam questions.
Step dour is RECITE. This is especially necessary in study reading. This is a step in which you say to yourself or to a partner, out loud, what it is you have just read. The more of your senses that you use while studying, the more likely you are to remember.
Step five is REVIEW. Take the study guide that you have developed for the chapter and look over it whenever possible. Don't wait until the last minute. The review can be done in small chunks of time as you wait between classes or have some time to spare while waiting for friends or lunch. Engaging in short periods of intensive concentration is a very efficient study method.
If you apply this formula--Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review--to your reading jobs that require concentration and learning, you will greatly increase your learning efficiency. The key to this and other study systems is repetition and comprehension monitoring. This method requires you to review the material several times and to determine, through the use of your study guide, what you do and do not understand prior to moving on. These processes will aid in your retention of the material.

Another helpful technique is using a note-taking system called Cornell Notes.

http://lsc.cornell.edu/Sidebars/Study_Skills_Resources/cornellsystem.pdf

http://coe.jmu.edu/LearningToolbox/cornellnotes.html